Nimari Burnett is recruiting five-star forward Jonathan Kuminga to Texas Tech | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Wednesday / June 3.
  • Nimari Burnett is recruiting five-star forward Jonathan Kuminga to Texas Tech

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA & JACOB POLACHECK

    No one knows yet where Jonathan Kuminga will be playing basketball next season, but Nimari Burnett would love the five-star forward to play at Texas Tech.

    “Oh, for sure,” Burnett told ZAGSBLOG on Thursday. “I’ve definitely been talking to him and seeing if he can reclass up and stuff like that.”

    Burnett, the 6-foot-3 guard from Prolific Prep (CA), committed to Texas Tech last November. Chris Beard’s team now has the No. 12-ranked recruiting class in 2020, per 247Sports.com. The team also features Kuminga’s older brother, sophomore forward Joel Ntambwe, who sat out last season after transferring in from UNLV.

    “I’m definitely trying to stay in contact with [Kuminga], knowing that I love to play with good players,” Burnett added. “It has shown over the few years I’ve been on the team. Definitely, if we get him it would be really good for Texas Tech and really good for us as a team to make an even better, longer run in March Madness.”

    Andy Borman, Kuminga’s coach with the NY Rens on the Nike EYBL circuit, isn’t the most unbiased person on the topic but the former Duke player said last summer that Kuminga is the “best player in the country regardless of class.

    “He’s 16 years old,” Borman said before Kuminga turned 17 last fall. “So let’s give him a little time just because he plays a very mature game and his athleticism is very mature. He’s got a bright future ahead of him and the best thing about him is that he works his tail off, man. When we’re not practicing during the week, he’s up at 5 a.m. to do conditioning and overall sports performance to work on his body.”

    Kuminga is officially in the Class of 2021 but was on the path to reclassify to 2020.

    Since finishing his season at The Patrick School (N.J.), where he averaged 12.0 points and 3.0 rebounds, the 6-foot-8 Kuminga has been training in Texas. He has not given any interviews since the end of the season but sources said he and his family are considering various options, including spending the 2020-21 season playing professionally somewhere, attending college, or potentially spending another year in high school or prep school.

    “I don’t even know, I have no idea,” Kuminga, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo who has his own Wikipedia page, told ZAGSBLOG in February. “All I say is just my focus [is] here, finish out my school year.”

    Kuminga is the projected No. 4 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, per ESPN.com. The projected No. 2 pick, Jalen Green, recently signed on for a reported $500,000 deal with the NBA G League’s new pathway. The G League is also involved for several other Class of 2020 prospects, including Texas forward Greg Brown, who will announce Friday between five colleges and the G League.

    Sam Mitchell, who will coach the G League “Select Team” featuring Green and former Michigan commit Isaiah Todd, recently told ESPN’s Amin Elhassan and Seth Greenberg that he did not know if any high school underclassmen would be chosen to join the new G League pathway.

    “That’s a great question,” Mitchell said. “I haven’t gotten that deep into it. I don’t think so but I don’t know. I would think it’s only going to be after these kids graduated high school.”

    In the fall, Kuminga issued a list of 10 schools he’s considering: Kentucky, Duke, Washington, Florida State, Memphis, Texas Tech, Michigan, Georgia, Maryland, and Auburn. He visited Georgia unofficially in February and said he hopes to visit all 10 schools on his list.

    He recently Tweeted that he would be cutting his list to five, but has not yet done so.

    Texas Tech on Thursday missed out on Purdue grad transfer Matt Haarms, when the 7-foot-3 big man chose BYU over Kentucky and Texas Tech. The Red Raiders also made the final six for 6-7 VCU grad transfer Marcus Santos-Silva.

    For his part, Burnett would love Kuminga to join the Texas Tech family.

    “Oh, we’re going to be an athletic, fun, fast-paced duo who’s going to get it done defensively as well,” Burnett said. “We’re just gonna bring a lot of fun to Texas Tech and fans can come out and have a good time because we’re going to put on a show.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.