Kevin Burwell spent a lot of time working on his game and getting into top physical condition last summer for a big season at Mississippi Valley State. For the former Imhotep Charter basketball star, the hard work has certainly paid off. Burwell has helped the Delta Devils win the Southwestern Athletic Conference and conference tournament championships. As a result, MSVU will have its dancing shoes on Tuesday, March 13 at 5:30 p.m. when they face Western Kentucky in the NCAA play in game in Dayton, Ohio.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound senior guard led MSVU to a 71-69 win over Texas Southern in the SWAC championship game at the Special Events Center in Garland, Texas. Burwell scored a team-high 19 points in the victory, shooting 6-for-11 from the field and 3-for-8 from three-point range and 4-for-7 from the free throw line.
“I definitely worked hard over the summer,” Burwell said. “I was at home getting into shape and playing basketball. It certainly helped me. I’m really excited about being in the NCAA tournament. We beat Texas Southern in the championship game. Everybody down here is really happy. I’ve always dreamed of playing in the NCAA tournament. Now, it’s here.”
The ex-Public League standout has helped to bring some national attention at MSVU, which is known for producing Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice. Burwell feels head coach Sean Woods, who was a star basketball player for the University of Kentucky, has done a great job of preparing them for the tournament. The Delta Devils had a tremendous non-conference schedule playing North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Florida. MSVU won the SWAC regular season championship with an 11-1 record. The Delta Devils only loss was to Arkansas-Pine Bluff. They finished the season with an overall 21-12 record.
“We played a lot of good teams,” Burwell said. “We had to go on the road to play them. The competition really helped us in the conference. It helped us in the SWAC championship game. We’re looking forward to playing against Western Kentucky. It’s going to be a big game for both teams.”
Burwell averaged 9.3 points, 4.5 assists and 3.4 rebounds a game. He has received a lot of attention for his basketball prowess. He’s been staying in touch with all of his friends and colleagues in Philly.
“I talked to a lot of people from Philly,” Burwell said. “I’m in touch with D.J. Rivera, Scootie Randall and Malik Alvin. I talked to Curt Jackson. I have a lot of support from Philly. That’s good, too. I’ve been calling everybody. I’ve been on national television before. I always hear from somebody whenever our team is on TV. Hopefully, they’ll be able to watch me against Western Kentucky.”
The winner of the MSVU/Western Kentucky game will be a 16 seed in the South region and face top seeded Kentucky on Thursday, March 15 in Louisville, Ky. Western Kentucky (15-18) won the Sun Belt Conference tournament championship.