Boys Basketball: Burdin's energy, scoring mentality igniting Hubs

Junior guard Garrett Burdin aspires to play Division I basketball, and he looks up to some of the greatest scorers in RTHS history including Ben Rand, Grant Prusator and Matt Rosenwinkel. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Junior guard averaging nearly 16 points per game this season

Rochelle guard Garrett Burdin looks up to some of the greatest scorers in school history. Those players include Hall of Famer Ben Rand, Grant Prusator and Matt Rosenwinkel, who all played collegiately and found success as NCAA Division I student-athletes.

With those players in mind, it’s no surprise that head coach Tim Thompson credited Burdin for having a scorer’s mentality after the 6-foot-2 guard strung together his best performances of the season during the E.C. Nichols Holiday Classic in Marengo. Burdin’s 24-point effort and six made 3-pointers propelled the Hubs over Belvidere in dominant fashion, and his 25-point outing led Rochelle to a near-upset against Crystal Lake Central this past weekend.

“Having a scorer’s mentality fuels my game,” Burdin said. “I like picking up the scoring for my team and doing whatever it takes to win. It all starts over the offseason, and our program is great when we dedicate ourselves because it’s all about how much work we want to put in. Working over the offseason and at home has helped me a lot, and our team chemistry is great because we feed off each other and we help each other get better.”

Burdin has been exposed to higher competition since his freshman season, when he played up with the sophomores and helped Rochelle win the Plano Christmas Classic and compile over 20 victories. He averaged over 10 points per game in his first varsity season last year, but an improved offensive arsenal including mid-lane floaters and short-range jump-stops has allowed him to increase his scoring output and average nearly 16 points per game this season.

“I’ve been creating goals and dreams for myself ever since I touched a basketball,” Burdin said. “My dream is to play Division I basketball and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make that dream come true… I want to shoot at a higher percentage than I am right now, and when I’m shooting a high percentage, I can create more opportunities for my teammates.”

Burdin enjoys scoring the basketball as much as he enjoys playing to the crowd, and the talented guard had that chance when Rochelle and Kaneland engaged in a high-octane shootout this past season. The battle pitted Thompson against his coaching mentor Russ Zick, and the game featured several high-level scoring efforts including a 22-point night from Burdin, who canned four triples in the second quarter and six 3-pointers for the game.

“My favorite moment was the Senior Night game against Kaneland when we won 88-84,” Burdin said. “It was a high-scoring and fast-paced game and that’s how I like to play… It was a really fun moment in the home gym. I feel that when I can bring energy to the floor, it brings out energy from everybody, and I want to be that high-energy player who hypes everybody up. Shooting is contagious, and I feel that energy is contagious too.”

Burdin and his Rochelle teammates are looking to build off their strong finish to the Marengo tournament this past weekend. While the Hubs (4-8) struggled with some early-season adjustments, Burdin is confident that the team’s renewed chemistry will result in more wins for the purple and white over the next few months.

“I felt like we struggled during the early part of the season, but I feel like we’ve become closer since we got through the Christmas tournament,” Burdin said. “I think that tournament can be a big turning point in our season, and I feel that we have a lot of games coming up that we can win. I think we’re going to start hitting our stride as we get ready for February and March.”

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