- Todd Needle/Daily
By Neal Rothschild, Daily Sports Editor
Published April 9, 2012
Trey Burke was told he should stay. He was told he should go. He was leaning toward staying in school, and he was leaning toward going pro. He solicited his family members and coaches for advice, and he was given unsolicited advice from fans and rival athletic directors.
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When he was done being stretched every which way, the freshman point guard decided he’ll stay at Michigan for his
“I just felt like I could develop more, and we have a great shot of competing for another Big Ten Championship and competing for a national championship,” Burke said in a press conference yesterday.
After Michigan’s season ended in a 65-60 loss to Ohio in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Burke started to look at his NBA Draft prospects. He consulted the NBA Draft Advisory Board, and though he didn’t reveal what the board told him, Burke said that the uncertainty of where he would go in the draft contributed to his decision to stay. He was projected to be a second-round pick by ESPN’s Chad Ford.
Last Wednesday, rumors and reports swirled that Burke had decided to declare for the June 28 NBA Draft, but coincidentally, that was the day Burke said he decided to stay put. It could have been that the reports were erroneous, or that Burke changed his mind in the wake of the media firestorm.
“(There) was a point where I was considering leaving,” Burke said. “I was never really two feet all the way in. Sometimes I was more leaving and sometimes I was more coming back. After talking it over with the coaches and with my family … I think that was the best decision for me. It was more of a risk for me to leave (and) declare for the NBA Draft.”
Burke said the main thing he would need to improve on to become an NBA-caliber point guard is his strength.
For a few days, Michigan fans thought that their prized point guard would be gone and that the Wolverines would need to find a replacement, just as they had done the year before when Burke took over for point guard Darius Morris, who left for the NBA after his sophomore year.
Burke said he consulted Morris as he made his decision, and Morris told him to make sure he would have no regrets about his choice. Burke said he ultimately made his decision on Wednesday during his drive home to Columbus.
With Burke’s return, Michigan remains a projected top-10 team in the country next season, aided by the arrival of recruits Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary, Nik Stauskas and recently added point guard Spike Albrecht.
“Losing our first game to Ohio was one of the most disappointing times of the year for us,” Burke said. “And I just felt like we have some unfinished business. With the recruits coming in, with the returning players, I feel like we have a great chance of winning a national championship.
“I just saw how bright the future was for this team.”
It’s the third-straight offseason that Michigan coach John Beilein has dealt with having his best talent set their sights a little higher. After the 2009-10 season, guard Manny Harris left after his junior year, and last season, Morris entered the draft after his second year.
Burke could have continued the trend, but he chose to go the other way.
“It’s a good problem to have,” Beilein said. “We’ve got some young men that really have potential to play in the NBA, so we want them to look at this, take their time, do it the right way. We never want them to have any regrets.”
Burke’s teammates were largely uninvolved in the decision.
“Some of us would talk to him here and there,” sophomore guard Tim Hardaway Jr. said. “But we knew it was a lot of stress dealing with this, and we tried to stand back as far as possible because we know it was a tough decision.”
Burke defied all expectations this season. He turned out to be just as good, or even better, than Morris, leading Michigan to its first Big Ten Championship since 1986 and racking up plenty of accolades for it. After averaging 14.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists, he was named Big Ten co-Freshman of the Year, selected to the All-Big Ten Second Team and got the nod as an AP All-America honorable mention.
He continued to challenge these expectations well after the season ended.