The landscape of girls basketball in the Sunrise Region has changed.
Former Foothill star Rae Burrell, arguably the best player in Southern Nevada, will play her senior season at Liberty.
Currently ranked as the 44th best player in the nation by HoopGurlz, Burrell moved into Liberty’s zone over the summer, and was officially cleared Tuesday to play for the Patriots.
“I loved playing with the girls at Foothill, and I loved being a part of last year’s regional championship,” Burrell said. “But I also felt the system at Liberty fit my game much better, and I thought I could mesh well with what they’re doing there for my senior season.”
Burrell said she has around 20 college offers, but her top four currently are Marquette, Tennessee, Oregon State and Oklahoma. With Burrell on the roster, Liberty coach Chad Kapanui believes he may have his most dominating team since current UNLV Lady Rebel Paris Strawther starred for the Patriots four years ago.
“Having a player like Rae really helps any program out. I’m just happy it’s with ours,” Kapanui said. “She gives you a lot of options. You can utilize her in so many different ways. Whether it’s on offense or defense, she can really help any team. Adding her to my team just give other teams match up problems.”
The 6-foot-1-inch senior wing can be a nightmare who can get things done on the inside, and is dominant anywhere around the paint. She can play point guard through power forward, but will likely see more time in the backcourt with Utah-commit Dre’una Edwards returning to Liberty’s frontcourt.
Burrell helped Foothill end Liberty’s four-year reign atop the Sunrise Region, leading the Falcons to a 55-52 win over the Patriots in the Sunrise title game. The combination of Burrell and Edwards instantly makes Liberty the team to beat in the Sunrise this coming season.
Ultimately, both Kapanui and Burrell have one goal in mind: catching three-time defending state champion Centennial.
“I’m going to my miss friends and teammates, but essentially with this being my final year of high school, and my future coming down to one last season, I needed to do what was best for me,” Burrell said. “And my goal is to graduate a state champion.”
Said Kapanui: “I’m not sure how other teams think or prepare,but I think and prepare to beat Centennial every year. If you’re not, then you’ll just be another team trying to win your division. Our focus every year going into season is to win the division, win the region and win state. That never changes.”