April 11, 2020
By Fred Liggett
Slow starts can sometimes lead to a fast finish as the Kansas City Kansas Community College Men’s basketball team showed during the recent 2019-20 season. The team was guided by first year head coach Brandon Burgette, a Lee’s Summit native who maintains his ties to the city now as a resident along with his wife and son.
Burgette understood the slow start by his new team as the Blue Devils “had a new system, a new staff and many new players.” The new staff, led by Burgette, included assistant Coach Brady Morningstar who is well known thanks to winning an NCAA national title as a player on the 2008 team at KU. Burgette says “the team struggled and it took time to adjust.” Evidence of that is found in the team’s results as they lost seven straight games in the first part of the season. The second half of the season saw the team go on a nine-game winning streak.
Having success on the junior college level for Burgette is no surprise to those who hired him and followed him much of his coaching career. Coach Burgette is familiar with the junior college ranks having coached at Indian Hills Junior College in Iowa before landing at Johnson County CC as an assistant prior to his role as Head Coach at Kansas City Kansas CC.
The second half success by the team was not confined to the regular season. The Blue Devils went on to win the Jayhawk Conference post season tournament and qualify for a trip to the National tournament in Danville, Illinois. Burgette enjoyed his team’s 75-68 win over Johnson County in the region Championship game this season. The game was the last one for Burgette’s former boss at Johnson County. The Blue Devils were all set to begin play in the NJCAA D-II men’s tourney starting on March 17 but the entire tournament was canceled due to the Corona virus.
Burgette knows a lot of kids in the area thanks to being a coach of an AAU team. Burgette feels “It’s good to coach in your home town. Being able to coach and being from here gives you goosebumps.” The Blue Devils had Lee’s Summit ties on the roster with freshman Deron McDaniel a 6’0” guard from Lee’s Summit High School. Burgette says of the former Tiger, “He’s been great for us. Known as a shooter.” “McDaniel shot over 40% from three-point range, has ability to make shots. McDaniel is a 2019 Lee’s Summit High School graduate.”
Burgette, a 2004 Lee’s Summit North graduate, says current LS North Head basketball coach Mike Hilbert “does a great job.” In fact Burgette returned to his alma mater in the summer of 2015 and helped Hilbert’s staff at camps. Burgette then left a short time later for Johnson County CC. Having the chance to coach on this level so near his home is a big thing for the area and make Coach Hilbert proud of him. While at LS North Burgette was a three-year starter whose high school career ended in a loss to Raytown South who was being coached by the legendary Bud Lathrop.
If the first year is any indication Brandon Burgette is headed for more success in coaching and don’t be surprised if his roster has a Lee’s Summit player on it leading the way.