• 81°

Burnell signs with UNC-P

AHOSKIE – Marcus Burnell is living his childhood dream.

The Hertford County High School graduate signed this week to attend the University of North Carolina at Pembroke where he will play basketball for the Braves.

“This is something Marcus has always wanted,” HCHS Head Basketball Coach Charles Simmons said. “I am so proud that he’s getting the chance to do it.”

Burnell said he always knew what he wanted.

“If I had a choice, it was always going to be basketball,” said Burnell, who also played football at HCHS for two seasons.

That choice came because of hard work and a little bit of good fortune.

Burnell was participating in a camp when he was noticed by UNC-P Head Coach Ben Miller and invited to visit the Braves’ campus.

“I went to campus, liked what I saw and signed while I was there,” Burnell said.

The HCHS graduate said there were a variety of influences on his decision to play at UNC-P.

“They run the floor and play a fast-paced game,” he said. “I like the coach and I loved the campus.”

Burnell credited Simmons and HCHS coaches Rabbit Weaver and Chris Towell with helping him realize his dream of playing college basketball.

The incoming Pembroke freshman said he had learned a lot at Hertford County High that would help him at his new school.

“I learned how to make correct passes, limit my turnovers and to converse with adults,” he said. “The biggest thing I learned is to look at things from a different perspective. When things don’t go my way, I have to keep going and not give up.”

Burnell started all four years on the varsity basketball team at HCHS and earned the Defensive Player of the Year Award during his final two seasons. He said both of those team accolades would be what he remembered from his time at the school.

Asked what he had learned that would help him the most on the floor at UNC-P, Burnell laughed as he replied, “Don’t one-hand pass the ball.”

Simmons said he was proud of what Burnell has accomplished up to this point of his young career.

“I am very proud of Marcus,” he said. “I remember when he was an incoming freshman and I took him with me to Greensboro because I knew he could play.

“He had never played for me and still ended up being my backup point guard,” Simmons continued. “The four years have flown by.”

The coach said Burnell had matured and grown since he arrived at Hertford County High.

“I think he has matured 300 percent since his ninth grade year,” he said. “When Marcus came here, he had a lot of play in him, but basketball has kept him moving forward. By his senior year, he was our leader on the defensive end of the floor and did some good things offensively.”

Simmons said it was his belief that Burnell could fit in quickly as part of the UNC-Pembroke program.

“I think he has the potential to make an immediate impact,” Simmons said. “Coach Miller really liked his athleticism and how he gets after people defensively.

“Also, they play a similar style to the one we play here,” Simmons continued. “He can contribute right off the bat.”

Burnell becomes the second basketball player at HCHS this year to sign to play at the collegiate level.

Lamar Monger committed to Winston-Salem State University earlier this spring.

Simmons, who has seen many of his better athletes sign to play college football, was happy to have two go for basketball.

“I’m really excited for the kids,” he said. “Marcus and Lamar have both wanted to play college basketball from the day they stepped on campus at Hertford County.

“I’m excited to see their dreams come true,” he added.