Memorial High’s boys basketball program appears to have formed its own super team.
Highly touted point guard Nimari Burnett, a freshman All American from Chicago, and wing Dameane Douglas, who averaged roughly 30 points per game last season at Hanford West, have enrolled at Memorial and are expected to play immediately for the Panthers this upcoming season.
A new CIF State transfer rule allows students to change schools for athletic purposes and in certain scenarios not sit out any games.
And though Burnett and Douglas might benefit from Memorial’s academics, it’s safe to say their decisions to join the Panthers were at least partially athletically motivated.
If these kids or their parents feel there’s a better opportunity … they’ll do what they feel is best for their kid.
Memorial coach Brad Roznovsky
“That’s just kind of the way it is now,” Memorial coach Brad Roznovsky said. “If these kids or their parents feel there’s a better opportunity for them for whatever reason, they’ll do what they feel is best for their kid.
“We are fortunate that they’ve chosen to come here.”
Memorial, which finished runner-up in the Central Section Division II finals, already had arguably the most talented player in the area in Jalen Green.
The 6-foot-5, 170-pound sophomore made the USA 16-and-under National Team last month and has multiple NCAA Division I offers.
Roznovsky predicts Memorial could have as many as six players receive college basketball scholarships.
Burnett, a 6-foot-3, 170-pound sophomore, is considered among the nation’s best players in the 2020 class and has offers from Illinois and DePaul.
He won a state championship last season after leading Morgan Park-Chicago to a Class 3A title. Neither Burnett nor his family could be reached for comment Friday.
Douglas, a 6-foot-6 senior, has received interest from college recruiters, too.
He also averaged about 15 rebounds, five blocks and five assists per game last season at Hanford West, according to his father “big” Dameane Douglas. The Huskies finished 9-19.
“We want to put Dameane in the correct situation where he can develop,” said “big” Dameane Douglas, who is from Hanford and played in the NFL from 1999-2002.
“It’s hard for him to leave behind his friends and coaches and teachers,” the father added. “They’ve all helped him become the person and player he is today. At the same time, the exposure he’ll get won’t hurt. I mean, it’s not like they can’t find you in Hanford. It worked out for me. But the exposure and playing with and against some of the best kids will only make him better.”
Douglas also will play football for the Panthers as a receiver. Memorial finished 7-6 on the gridiron and reached the semifinals of the Central Section’s D-III playoffs.
Douglas was the starting quarterback for Hanford West, which went 3-7.
Family moves mean the transfers won’t have to sit out any games, Roznovsky said. Burnett’s mother got transferred to the central San Joaquin Valley by her job, while the Douglases are doing a full-family move to the city.
26-7 Memorial’s record last season, which ended in the second round of the CIF State playoffs
The Panthers also return 6-3 senior Lunden Taylor (a two-time County/Metro Athletic Conference MVP), 6-3 junior Justin Huelskamp and 6-6 senior Jonah Geron, who has an offer from Montana State.
Memorial did lose junior guard Milton Burnett (not related to Nimari), who has transferred to Clovis West.
And 6-foot-6 junior Deon Stroud transferred to Trinity International Schools, a basketball-oriented prep school in Las Vegas.
“We are very excited about the prospect of playing deep into March,” Roznovsky said. “But what comes with all this is the hype.
“We’ll need to make sure the kids still know that you’ve got to come and work hard every day at practice. We’ll see where that takes us. But I’m excited.”