Michigan point guard Trey Burke made the right move by announcing Monday that he will return to school for his sophomore year.
Burke enjoyed one of the most surprisingly successful freshman seasons in the nation last year, leading the Wolverines in scoring (14.8 ppg). He also averaged 4.6 assists and 3.5 rebounds in helping lead Michigan (24-10) to its first Big Ten regular-season title since 1985-86, as Burke became the first Wolverine to earn mention on the Associated Press All-American team since 1998.
On April 4, CBSSports.com reported that Burke had declared for the draft. But Burke’s father quickly refuted the report. Burke’s decision to explore his pro options also drew a Tweet of advice from Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis, which created a stir in some circles (AP story).
Burke joins Ohio State sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas as Big Ten underclassmen who submitted evaluation papers to the NBA to explore early entry—only to opt to return. But Ohio State center Jared Sullinger did choose last week to turn pro after just two seasons in Columbus.
The 5-11 Columbus, Ohio, native is a quick guard who excels at getting into the lane and scoring. Burke also is a good shooter, but he needs to get stronger and become a more polished ballhandler. And it’s also believed that NBA point guards of his stature typically have to be exceptionally fast, strong or incredible shooters to compensate for their lack of height. And it’s widely believed Burke’s game will benefit from more time and seasoning at Michigan.
Michigan breathes a sigh of relief. Last year, the Wolverines saw point man Darius Morris turn pro after his sophomore year, which surprised many but created an opening for Burke. The year before that, Manny Harris turned pro following his junior season.
But Burke is back, and his return is a boost to Michigan’s hopes to win another league title and push for a better run in the NCAA tourney after being dumped in its first game vs. Ohio as a No. 4 seed.
Yes, sweet-shooting big man Evan Smotrycz has opted to transfer and senior guards Stu Douglass and Zack Novak are gone. But the Wolverines will return guards Tim Hardaway Jr., and Matt Vogrich, along with forwards Jordan Morgan, Jon Horford and Blake McLimans, and will welcome a touted recruiting class led by big man Mitch McGary, forward Glenn Robinson III, and guard Nick Stauskas.
The future looks bright for Michigan.
BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is on Twitter and Facebook, and all of his work is at btn.com/tomdienhart. Send questions to his weekly mailbag, subscribe to his RSS feed, and check out his video Q&A.