Dienhart: Was matter of when, not if, for Burke

Michigan’s Trey Burke has declared for the NBA draft. No shock there. What is shocking is that it took him so long to make a decision.

In fact, it seemed to be a matter of when—not if—he would turn pro. The 6-0 point guard is projected by most to be a top-10 pick in the June draft.

If you recall, Burke almost bolted Ann Arbor after last season.

[ AP: Burke leaving Michigan early for NBA draft ]

But Burke opted to return for his sophomore season after helping Michigan win a share of its first Big Ten title since 1985-86. It proved to be a wise choice, as Burke has been named Big Ten Player of the Year, a consensus All-American, the Wooden Award winner and the Naismith Player of the Year–among other accolades. Even better: Burke led Michigan to its first Final Four since 1993, where the Wolverines lost the national championship game to Louisville.

Burke is the fourth Big Ten player to declare early for the draft, joining Indiana’s Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller and Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas.

[ RELATED: View 2013 NBA Draft Big Ten early entrants ]

All agree that Burke is ready for the next level. He’s one of the nation’s quickest players, a force off the dribble and a deadly marksman from the perimeter who also has underrated strength. Plus, Burke has developed into a gritty, tough leader who isn’t afraid of the big shot or big moment.

Burke’s full arsenal of skills was on display in the NCAA tourney. He was simply spectacular in a Sweet 16 victory over Kansas, scoring all 23 of his points in the second half and overtime—including a last-second 3-pointer that forced overtime—to help the Wolverines mount a furious rally en route to notching an improbable victory vs. No. 1 seed Kansas.

For the season, Burke averaged 18.6 points, 6.7 assists and 3.2 rebounds. Last year, he averaged 14.8 points, 4.6 assists and 3.5 rebounds. Burke has become a better shooter, going from 43 to 46 percent overall and from 34 to 38 percent from 3-point range.

No doubt, Burke. a native of Columbus, Ohio, is a special player and probable NBA star.

Now, Michigan fans wonder if other Wolverines will follow Burke’s lead. The most likely to is Tim Hardaway, Jr. But will freshmen Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III bolt? If not, Michigan will have a loaded roster in 2013-14, with Nik Stauskas, Jordan Morgan, Jon Horford, Spike Albrecht and Caris LeVert all coming back. And some touted recruits also are coming aboard, led by Indiana Mr. Basketball Zak Irvin.

Still, not having Burke and his playmaking and shot-making skills will hurt John Beilein’s team.

Watch our Trey Burke ultimate highlight package:

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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3 Comments

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Doug on 4/14/2013 @ 2:05pm EST Said:

Well Mark, see you in the fall !!!

Reality check on 4/14/2013 @ 2:46pm EST Said:

Doug, you ruined my life

Doug on 4/14/2013 @ 4:27pm EST Said:

Come on Mark it’s not that bad. You just can’t post here til the fall, and you’re kicked off the LSJ blog, you’ll be OK until MSU beats Michigan in football Nov 2nd.