Texas Tech basketball hosting 5-star guard Nimari Burnett

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - APRIL 04: Head coach Chris Beard of the Texas Tech Red Raiders speaks to the media ahead of the Men's Final Four at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 04, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - APRIL 04: Head coach Chris Beard of the Texas Tech Red Raiders speaks to the media ahead of the Men's Final Four at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 04, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images) /

This weekend, the Texas Tech basketball team will be hosting Nimari Burnett, a 5-star guard from Chicago who is a top 25 player in the nation.

If the opportunity to help Matt Wells and the football team pick up a critical victory over Iowa State is not enough to motivate fans to get out to Jones Stadium on Saturday, maybe a chance to help Chris Beard land a 5-star recruit will motivate Texas Tech basketball supporters to get up early this weekend.

Beard will be hosting one of the nation’s top players, Nimari Burnett, for an official visit this weekend and there’s no doubt that the homecoming football game will be on the agenda.  The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder from Chicago is a consensus 5-star prospect and the No. 22 player in the class of 2020 according to 247Sports.com.

The No. 5 combo guard in the nation has Tech in his top five along with Michigan, Alabama, Oregon, and Arizona.  In September, he officially visited the Ducks, Cardinals, and Crimson Tide and now it is the Red Raiders who get to show him what their school has to offer.

"“A big-bodied guard who excels both on and off the ball,” writes Brian Snow of 247Sports.  “When he plays on the ball, he uses his frame with great length to overpower defenders and get to into the lane. Once there, Burnett shows solid floor vision and is good at finding shooters. When he plays off the ball, Burnett makes himself into a scorer who can get buckets by both attacking the basket and from deep. While he is a better athlete than most expect at first blush, he does need to continue to get into better shape – which should help all aspects of his game.”"

With seven freshmen and only two seniors on the current roster, the upcoming Red Raider signing class figures to be rather small.  Thus, Beard appears to be swinging for the fences.

In addition to Burnett, he is also heavily courting Duncanville, Texas prospect Micah Peavy.  The No. 43 player in the nation and No. 11 small forward, Peavy has already taken his official visit to Lubbock and is set to visit the Longhorns this weekend.

Another top prospect that the Red Raiders had been squarely in the mix for was 6-foot-10 center Gethro Muscadin.  But the No. 16 center in the nation announced Thursday that he has committed to Kansas following a visit to Lawrence last week.

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Late to the party when it comes to Burnett, Tech has made up considerable ground in recent months and is now considered among the favorites with Alabama in this key recruiting battle.  That’s because the Red Raiders only came into the picture in this battle two months ago when Ulric Malagi was hired as an assistant coach to replace Glynn Cyprien, who left to coach the Nigerian national team.

The 35-year-old Malagi is a former assistant at Texas A&M but when former Aggy head coach Billy Kennedy was fired after last season, Malagi found a home in Lubbock.  Now, he’s trying to make a huge splash by landing what would be the highest-ranked recruit to ever commit to Texas Tech.

"“They are new in my recruitment,” he told Evan Daniels of 247Sports back in August.  “They came in a week or two ago. Coach Ulric [Maligi] just got hired there. He previously coached at Texas A&M and he has ties with Chicago and he watched me grow and prosper and he just wants to be a part of the recruitment. Coach Beard has had success recently having Jarrett Culver and Zhiare Smith coming out of Texas Tech. being a top 10 team each and every year and they see me coming in and possibly being a one and done and also winning.”"

If that comes to pass, it would mark the third-straight year in which Beard has brought in a recruit rated higher than any to ever join the program.  In 2018, he signed Khavon Moore, the No. 54 player in his class and 2019 signee Jahmi’us Ramsey was ranked No. 32 in the nation.   In other words, Beard is recruiting in a way that no other coach in program history has even been able to even come close to approaching.

Interestingly, two of the Red Raiders’ main competitors for Burnett have recent connections to Tech.   Of course, back in March’s Sweet 16 the Red Raiders knocked Michigan out of the NCAA Tournament with a suffocating 66-44 win.  The game prior, the Red Raiders beat Buffalo 78-58 in the second round to set up the showdown with the Wolverines.  The Bulls that day were coached that day by Nate Oats, who is now running the show at Alabama.

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Beard and his coaches are currently in the middle of fall camp ahead of the season opener on November 5th in Lubbock.  But between now and then, they hope to be able to get a jump on the 2020-21 season by bringing one of the best players in the nation into the fold.