Former Madison Memorial standout Tre Burnette is still pursuing his dreams of playing professional basketball, last week signing with the Kirchheim Knights in Germany’s Pro A league.
The Knights, coached by Anton Mirolyboy, want to use Burnette’s versatility defensively and his impressive scoring prowess.
“It was important for us that we get a reliable player that had played in Europe before,” Mirolyboy said. “He can play both forward positions. He should help us at many different positions and make us more versatile defensively.”
Burnette played in Europe last season averaging 15.5 points and 9.4 rebounds a game for Olimpi Tbilisi in the Georgia Superleague.
As he embarks on a new chapter in his journey, Burnette reflected with Madison365 about all the stops along the way. Before boarding his flight for Germany last Saturday, Burnette said his time at Madison Memorial still stands out in his mind.
They seemed like the greatest team of all time. Wisconsin has a long history of dominant prep boys basketball programs. Powerhouse programs that went on runs sometimes lasting 2 or 3 years, sometimes lasting a decade. Milwaukee Vincent comes to mind. Others, like Oshkosh North or Germantown or Milwaukee Washington showed dominance in stretches of years.
Madison Memorial High School is one of those programs. From 2008-2011 the Spartans were dominant unlike anything those of us who are a certain age have ever seen. En route to three consecutive state championship games, the Spartans were ranked in the top 20 nationally.
Burnette, a forward with scintillating scoring ability and defensive versatility remembers his time playing for a special program with a lot of pride. He just remembers it a little bit differently than the average fan who still comes up to him on the street to ask him about it.
“I didn’t understand the magnitude of it all at the time,” Burnett said of his Memorial playing days. “But now around town people still recognize me and remember my accolades. As kids we knew it was a big deal but we didn’t know the full magnitude.I feel like that kicked off my hopes and drive and determination because my Senior year we didn’t have Vander Blue or Jerronne Mayman and people doubted us.”
Burnette proved the doubters wrong by leading the team in scoring in the State Championship Game and delivering the Spartans their second title in three years.
Following his standout career at Memorial, Burnette played Division 1 ball at South Dakota. When he got there he noticed right away that he couldn’t rest on the laurels of being a great high school or junior college player. He would have to show everyone what he could do all over again.
“South Dakota was amazing. I transferred there along with my coach. It was a test for me to prove myself again because a lot of people didn’t think I was gonna do anything.”
Burnette averaged 13 points and 6 rebounds per game during his senior year at South Dakota prompting talk that he could play professional basketball.
In 2017, after he was All-league second team in the Georgian League, Burnette was drafted in the NBA G-League draft by the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the G-League affiliate of the Miami Heat. While he ultimately didn’t make the Skyforce for this season, the fact that Burnette was drafted means his hoop dreams can continue.
“He was with them for about two weeks,” said his mother Keetra Burnette. “I know that he went to a couple of tryouts in South Dakota and another in Milwaukee. They had their online draft and he was selected. It was a two week process.”
While he was disappointed that the G-League wasn’t the right fit for him, Burnette has continued to seek out places to play.
“It was exciting to try out for the G-League,” Burnette says. “It was a little nerve racking because I gave up five opportunities to play overseas in order to try out.”
But now that he has joined his team in Germany, Burnette seems excited about the team and about another opportunity to play basketball.
“They told me they want energy,” he said. “I’ve been doing that for a long time! They also want my leadership. They had a couple players with the wrong attitude so they let those guys go. Overseas there’s great athletes who really know the game. It’s much harder than Division 1 basketball. Your mind has to be right for it.”
With all that he has accomplished and for all the doubters he’s silenced in life, Tre Burnette’s mind will certainly be right for it.