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Report: Burke to leave Michigan, enter NBA Draft

Erin Kirkland/Daily
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By Daniel Wasserman, Daily Sports Writer
Published April 4, 2012

According to multiple reports, freshman point guard Trey Burke has decided to forgo the remainder of his basketball career at Michigan and will enter the upcoming NBA Draft.

CBS Sports was the first to report the news about Burke’s departure on Wednesday. The Detroit Free Press — which was the first to report Burke’s plan to inquire about his draft prospects two weeks ago, citing his father, Benji — later reported that Burke met with Michigan coach John Beilein on Monday.

If the reports prove true, this marks the second consecutive year that the Wolverines will enter an offseason with a void at point guard following an underclassman starter bolting for the NBA. Last season, Darius Morris left after his sophomore season and was drafted in the second round by the Los Angeles Lakers.

Word of Burke’s decision quickly spread across the Internet, prompting Burke’s family to respond.

“Trey Burke has not declared for the NBA draft. He is still enrolled at the University of Michigan,” Benji tweeted Wednesday afternoon.

But even if Burke has made up his mind and informed coaches of his intentions, the freshman won’t be expected to declare within the next few days.

This year, the NCAA has attempted to regulate NBA Draft declarations by imposing an April 10 deadline — 19 days before the NBA-mandated April 29 deadline for players to declare for the draft — for athletes who have officially declared for the NBA to withdraw their names and return to school before the June 28 draft.

But the April 10 deadline leaves itself susceptible to a loophole. Should Burke officially declare any time before April 10, he must pull by out by that date in order to be eligible to return to college. But he could choose to wait until after the NCAA’s deadline, and as long as he declares before April 29, he’d still be eligible for the draft. This leaves additional time to further gather information or allow time for a possible change of heart.

Even if Burke would chose to return, Michigan would still have a void at point guard — albeit, in the backup role.

This year, senior guard Stu Douglass slid over from his shooting guard role to run the point when Burke was on the bench.

But Douglass’s eligibility in Ann Arbor has expired. Additionally, freshman guard Carlton Brundidge — one of only two remaining Wolverines with any experience at point guard — chose to transfer after the season ended.

The lone point guard currently on the roster is junior Eso Akunne, who appeared in just 12 games this year before season-ending foot surgery. But the former walk-on averaged just four minutes per game and lacks the ability to be a major Big Ten contributor.

Beilein has already gotten to work trying to find Burke’s replacement. CBS Sports also reported that Spike Albrecht, a prep-school point guard, is expected to visit Ann Arbor tomorrow.

In an interview with UMHoops.com, Albrecht’s coach John Carroll said the “expectation” is for Michigan to offer the guard tomorrow. Though Albrecht is an unheralded recruit — his list is reportedly down to the Wolverines and Appalachian State — he has several connections to Michigan. Albrecht’s family is friends with senior guard Zack Novak’s family, and the Crown Point, Ind. native was AAU teammates with incoming Michigan signees Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary.

But while Burke may utilize one loophole to his advantage, Beilein may use another one. NCAA guidelines permit players who have graduated from college to complete their final year of eligibility at a different school if their original school doesn’t offer the graduate program that a player wishes to enroll in. This stipulation has helped two programs win Big Ten Championships in the past year: quarterback Russell Wilson transferred from North Carolina State to Wisconsin, putting himself in Heisman contention, and Michigan State landed guard Brandon Wood from Valparaiso.

In his first year as a Wolverine, Burke led Michigan in points, assists, steals, blocks, minutes played and 3-point makes. Burke is given much of the credit for the program’s first conference title since 1986.