Texas Tech basketball: Transfer guard Jamarius Burton eligible immediately

Thursday, Texas Tech guard Jamarius Burton, a transfer from Wichita State, was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA.

The Texas Tech basketball program received some good news from the NCAA eligibility committee on Thursday.  No, that’s not a typo.

Junior guard Jamarius Burton, a transfer from Wichita State, was granted a waiver to be eligible for the 2020-21 season.  The irony though is that he might prefer to sit out.

When the 6-foot-4, 205-pounder announced earlier this offseason that he was transferring to Tech, Chris Beard himself said that Burton wished to redshirt the upcoming season to develop his body and his skills.  That was a surprising decision for a player who averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game this past season.

So has Burton’s intention changed?  Only he knows but this move feels like a contingency plan.

Remember that the Red Raiders are still waiting on a waiver for Georgetown transfer Mac McClung, a guard who averaged 15.7 points per game in 2019-20.  Should he be granted that waiver, as expected, Burton will likely redshirt as planned.  However, if he does not get good news from the NCAA, Burton may go ahead and play this year to help supplement the Red Raider backcourt.

That’s not to suggest the players have the exact same skillset.  Burton is more of a point guard who likes to run the show and get others involved while McClung is a pure scorer who uses his elite athleticism to play above the rim.

But either way, Tech needs at least one of them to help round out the 2020-21 backcourt.  With the departures of both Jah’mius Ramsey and Davide Moretti, the team’s two top scorers last season, the Tech guard rotation is lacking in experience and proven scoring.

While the presence of junior Kyler Edwards should be a steadying influence, Tech will be looking at freshmen such as 5-star signee Nimari Burnett and 4-star wing Micah Peavy to play important minutes as facilitators. While both players are supremely talented, Tech still needs the experience of either Burton or McClung, and now we know that the former is guaranteed the opportunity to play this year.

As a sophomore, the North Carolina native had 18 double-digit games.  That included a season-high of 18 against UT-Martin and 16 against Ole Miss, Memphis, and Temple.

Also of interest to Texas Tech basketball fans this week, the NCAA ruled that the upcoming college basketball season will begin on November 25th, approximately two weeks after the original start date.  It is expected that much of the non-conference portion of the season will take place in a bubble similar to that put in place this fall by the NHL and NBA.  And the fact that many colleges will have concluded their fall semesters by that time, wrapping up classes earlier than normal to keep students away from campus during the height of flu season, makes the bubble idea more feasible.

But just like we’ve been saying with the college football season, we are all simply thankful that we will have some semblance of a college basketball season in the midst of the ongoing global pandemic.  And when it begins, Texas Tech is expected to be as talented as almost any team in the nation, especially if either Burton or McClung…or potentially both are able to play this season.