You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Should Trey Burke stay in school, or leave early? A look at both sides

By Nick Baumgardner

The offseason is officially underway, and the Michigan basketball program has uncertainty surrounding its point guard.

Just another spring in Ann Arbor.

For the third straight year, a Michigan guard is contemplating an early exit from school for a shot at professional basketball.

Two years ago, Manny Harris thought about it and left. Last year, Darius Morris thought about it and left.

This year, freshman point guard Trey Burke is thinking about it -- but hasn't gone anywhere just yet.

Should he stay? Should he go? That's for he and his family to decide, and they have every right to explore both avenues.

Here's a case for both sides of the coin:


For the third straight year, a Michigan guard is contemplating a move to the NBA. Manny Harris and Darius Morris opted to leave Ann Arbor. Your move, Trey Burke.

Angela J. Cesere |

Why he might leave

Strike while the iron's hot

Burke's father, Benji Burke, alluded to as much earlier in the week, and it's a point that shouldn't go overlooked.

As a freshman in college, Burke was the leading scorer on a co-Big Ten championship squad, broke Michigan's single-season rookie assist record, played more minutes than any other freshman in program history and was the league's co-Freshman of the Year.

Quite simply, that's an extremely tough act to follow.

Michigan will have more talent on paper next season, even with the recent departure of Evan Smotrycz. Meaning, the opportunity for Burke to average 12 shots per game throughout a 35ish-game season might not be as strong.

Even if the shots are there every night, he's got to hit. Burke really never went through any type of extended scoring or shooting drought as a freshman, and should he return next year and struggle a bit, his stock may fall.

He's a hot name right now, and his numbers on paper are terrific, even if they do come from a small sample size.

He's not getting any taller, or younger

There's one thing about Burke that will always linger as a knock on him throughout his basketball career, and it's something he cannot control.

His height.

He's listed at 5-foot-11, which is actually rather small for today's college game, not to mention the modern pro game. Along the same lines of the "strike while it's hot" idea, Burke's stock will always be limited due to his height. So, if it's hot right now, maybe you roll the dice.

It's no secret how NBA teams draft. They draft on potential and they very much prefer youth.

Burke is 19 years old right now, and he's 5-foot-11. The chances of a pro team taking a shot on a 19-year-old, 5-foot-11 point guard may be a bit higher than a team rolling the dice on a 22-year-old, 5-foot-11 point guard.

Living the dream

When you boil it all down, take away all the numbers and what ifs, Trey Burke is like every other kid who signs a letter of intent to play college basketball.

Some are more audible about it than others, but no one enters a program without an end goal of playing in the NBA.


It's a big part of why Burke meticulously prepared last summer, why he soaked up any minute he could and why he decided to attend a school like Michigan in the first place.

No one, his family included, expected Burke to be this good, this quickly. But he has been. And if his advisory paperwork comes back with an optimistic outlook, it'll be extremely difficult for Burke -- and everyone who supports him -- to say no to the next opportunity.

Say what you will about Manny Harris and Darius Morris, but as of today, both of those players are members of an NBA organization.

The money never hurts, obviously. But the mere chance to fulfill a dream will always speak awfully loud.

Why he might stay

He'll get better in Beilein's system

For anyone who was paying attention this year, Burke was Beilein's system.

After having success with Darius Morris in 2010-11 and again with Burke in 2011-12, it's pretty clear that Beilein's offense (at the moment) completely runs through the point guard.

If Burke comes back, he may have more mouths to feed in terms of shots and scoring opportunities, but he'll be the one deciding where the ball goes. Because, frankly, it'll be in his hand 37 minutes a game.

Also, there's no one else waiting in the wings.

Of all the standout recruits Beilein is brining in next season, not one of them is a point guard. There is no serious backup, no one to threaten his minutes, no one to steal his spot.

With Morris, that had to have been a serious concern. One way or another Burke was going to play last season, whether Morris was at Michigan or not. This time around, though, there is no upstart freshman coming in to split time.

Michigan's entire offense runs around Burke, and should he return, he'll be supremely showcased on a nationally-watched program from November to March.

He's not ready -- yet

Burke had a marvelous season, but he's far from perfect.

Against physical defenders (Ohio State's Aaron Craft), he struggled to turn the corner. Against speedy defenders (Purdue's Lewis Jackson), he struggled to shake free. And against teams with length and bulk (Ohio State, Michigan State), Burke couldn't get off clean shots and had trouble finding open teammates.

He was out-played head-to-head by speedy Ohio point guard D.J. Cooper on a big stage in the NCAA Tournament, and far too often settled for forced shots on the break and from deep.

He made of ton of them, but he also missed plenty as well.

Physically, there's not much Burke can do about some of his limitations. Mentally, he absolutely can.

By working with Beilein and Michigan assistant LaVall Jordan, Burke can find ways to combat his size issue when opponents prey on it. He can become a better defender and he can become less of a score-first guard, and more of a complete distributor.

If he enters the draft, every one of those aforementioned issues will arise in pre-selection workouts. And he won't have another season of college to fall back on to fix them.

Big man on campus with a shot to win

Burke's not Denard Robinson in Ann Arbor, but he's not exactly an unknown.

In just one year on campus, Burke became kind of a big deal.

When ESPN's College GameDay visited Crisler Center earlier this year, and the Michigan basketball team walked onto the court, the majority of signs in the crowd featured Burke's name.

And when the game ended, he was the player standing at center court talking to Erin Andrews on live television.

He's fun to watch, fans seem to adore him and next season -- alongside Tim Hardaway Jr. -- he'd be the face of Beilein's program. Those preseason posters you see touting Michigan hoops on the sides of downtown buses? They'll be covered in Burke action shots.

And, on top of all that, Michigan has a chance to be very, very good.

After the Wolverines lost to Ohio earlier this month in the NCAA Tournament, Burke went through his obligations to reporters in the locker room, holding court with roughly 20 of them right away.

But once that pack broke up, and Burke made his way to a locker, his face portrayed more frustration than any other underclassman in the room.

If Burke leaves, he'll never be able to avenge the way Michigan ended the 2011-12 season, and that'll be his legacy.

If he returns, he has more control on how he'll be remembered.

And maybe, he'll add another ring to his collection.

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan basketball for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.

Want to stay connected to Wolverine basketball in your Facebook newsfeed? “Like”'s Michigan Basketball News & Views.



Mon, Mar 26, 2012 : 8:35 a.m.

If he stays, he is sure to win the Heisman next year........ the basketball one.


Mon, Mar 26, 2012 : 12:51 a.m.

Stay at least one more year, Trey. Isaiah Thomas spent 2 years in college.

Wally the Wolverine

Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.

"Should I stay or should I go?" (do you hear The Clash in the background)? Nick, you left out one other reason for him to go. There is no proven senior leadership returning to support him - an extremely heavy burden for a talented underclassman to carry. His stock could drop dramatically if the new guys do not perform at a high level from the moment they first set foot on the court. Fact is, we hit the lottery with Trey Burke. Now, lightning could strike twice but we don't know that it will. Trey may be pondering this as well.


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 3:22 p.m.

The only reason I want him to stay is he is extremely talented and you can't build a better team with good players who rotate in and out every two years. Bo's "Those who stay will be champions," kind of is to the point. I think to succeed in the NBA, he will need five or six inches. But then if your position is "bench warmer" that is still a pretty good job. And playing globally can be a good job too. But it is really none of our business and we may never know why a player decides to leave. Academic problems (eligibility) could be a factor and a player doing poorly in classes (a la Forcier) may rather move on rather than endure some potential embarrassment. Not saying that is in play here, it is just something that comes to mind when a player that seems not ready considers a try. Players like Jared Sullinger-would not be surprised if he entered the draft, but he may be making more at OSU than in the NBA (ha, ha).

Eric Johnson

Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 3:31 a.m.

The sad truth is that Trey, Darius, and not one of us . . . have free will. We're just "neuronal weather patterns" blowing around the biosphere for a few blinks. Still, that's pretty cool, in its own way . . .


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 3:27 a.m.

Stay: honor the commitment and obtain a good degree. Go: roll the dice on an NBA career begun too early and contribute to the too low graduation rate in the basketball program.


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 5:33 p.m.

He made no commitment to stay for four years (and got no commitment to a four year deal). Also, while tuition is paid, a degree is not "obtained" it requires hours and hours of work. If an athlete hates classes and studying it's a long, long four years.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 10:42 p.m.

All I can say is Who Cares?


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 2:13 a.m.

clearly you do. Hence, the response?


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 9:09 p.m.

Reason not to go. 60% of NBA players are bankrupt within 5 years. If Burke makes it in the NBA (a big if ) than he'll be bankrupt within 5 years. No one talks about that.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 10:44 p.m.

1. Where did you get that statistic? 2. I your statement is true, your conclusion is false. If he makes it in the NBA there's only a 60% chance he'll he'll be bankrupt. How much money do the other 40% have? 3. How much money will he have if he doesn't make it in the NBA?


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 8:37 p.m.

I don't think Michigan fans need to worry. The chances of Trey entering the draft are pretty low. Whether it's what he wants to do or not, he'll be lucky to get drafted at all. This years draft is supposed to be one of the most talented groups we've seen in a long time. Darius declared last year because it was a horrible draft and he still almost got left out. Different situations entirely.


Mon, Mar 26, 2012 : 6:26 p.m.

Are YOU serious? Jared Sullinger, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Thomas Robinson, Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, Harrison Barnes, James Michael McAdoo, Austin Rivers, Jeremy Lamb, Kendall Marshall, Tyler Zeller, Terrence Jones, Draymond Green, Andrew Drummond, Perry Jones... those are a few names that come to mind. More importantly, as a point guard he'll be going up against the likes of Kendall Marshall (projected lottery pick), Damian Lillard (projected lottery pick), Dion Waiters, Marquis Teague, Tyshawn Taylor, and Dee Bost. All these guys are 6'2" to 6'5". And yes, that's a big deal. It's why Darius Morris got drafted (barely). It doesn't look very promising for Trey. Now, if he were to stay in school for another year or two he might be able to elevate his game and become a Jameer Nelson type player. I still don't think he'll ever be a lottery pick, but the extra college experience would make him a smarter and tougher (mentally and physically) NBA player should he ever make a career there.


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 12:27 a.m.

R u serious? This year's draft class is just boo boo. We are in serious trouble as NBA fans in the next 8 to ten years.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 8:17 p.m.

Burke is a bit of a selfish ball hog with limited court awareness.... he's not even close to being ready for the NBA.


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 7:35 p.m.

Aren't you confusing him with Jr.?


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 2:14 a.m.

Evan, you already transfered, stop whining. and stop posting on this site. get out of town.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 8:14 p.m.

I answer this question from a perspective of a non-athlete, an alum, and someone who tries to understand this generation of athletes. I think esssentially all of these athletes need more time to grow, to experience life, to learn (i.e. use the education that is being offered which is irreplaceable), and to be with people your own age. As far as basketball skills, Burke was great in college, but showed that he has limitations by not being able to outplay those teams that defended him tightly. That will happen in the NBA every night, and then he will ride the pine, and eventually get cut. There is no loyalty. I understand the "strike while the iron is hot" mentality--it is hard to overlook, but it is a huge gamble worth millions if he bets wrong. No NBA franchise will ever be loyal to a second round pick, even if productive. And few are loyal to first round performers who are not instant studs on the court. Trey: If I were your father, I wouldn't even be having this discussion. Of course you'd return (even if deferring the dream for a few years). College is a time for all youngsters to transition to adulthood, to learn their critical skills--be it thinking, athletic, experiential, etc. The NBA will be there if you warrant it, and I think you will do nothing but improve. And college will allow you to learn cost-free, which is certainly a good fallback.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 6:52 p.m.

He should obviously stay. Lets be real Trey Burke is not an elite talent at this time he is a very good freshman. He does have the ability to turn into an elite talent but it will mean staying at Michigan at least one more year. There is a reason why 5"11 pgs don't fair very well in today's NBA unless they are elite players such as Allen Iverson or Chris Paul who were both heads and tails better than Burke when they entered the NBA. Darius Morris should have stayed the only reason why he got drafted was he is a 6"5 pg. He couldn't shoot and if he would have stayed and developed he could have easily been a first round pick just based on a little improvement and potential.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 6:22 p.m.

The college basketball fan experience is ruined by early exits to the NBA. Frankly, I'm tired of the talk each year about athletes staying or going. I don't care any more. Go to the NBA already, and let's move on.

Michigan Man

Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 10:07 a.m.

J5 - I am with you! I really, really enjoy M basketball and college bball also. I, like you, am just fatigued with all of the drama about what kids do after the season. At this juncture, like you, I could care less what Burke does. M bball will survive, more forward just fine and be perfectly fine with or without Burke.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.

Let him Go! (Spartan fan)


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 4:30 p.m.

I can't even understand why he would think he's ready for the NBA. I thought the news of him testing the waters was a joke when I read it a few days ago. He needs at least one more year to develop; he was a major reason why Michigan lost a few games at the end of the season. If he is NBA calibur, then he would have taken over most of the games that the team was behind in and pulled out a victory by scoring or creating. That didn't happen.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 3:31 p.m.

The most revealing performance he needs to consider was mentioned in the article. Craft and MSU both easily made him ineffective. What does he think NBA guards will do to him? He needs more seasoning for sure unless he's willing to accept the inevitable and go play in Europe for a couple of seasons. He'd be better off sticking with the program, except he'd earn a lot of money in Europe.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.

if your recruiting better talent you have to expect players to try taking a chance on the NBA from time to time love to see Trey stay longer but feel blessed to have watched him play this year Have to go back to Gary Grant or Jalen Rose to see such great point guard play as a freshman


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

Burke should clearly stay. He isn't ready for the NBA - not by a longshot. He turns the ball over way too much for a PG and needs to work more on his jump shot, not to mention his weak defense. But in the bigger picture, I think this one and done rule allowed by the NBA is horrible and should be changed to more match football. It makes even a bigger mockery of the idea of these high-profile kids going to college to take classes and eventually get a degree. There's almost no way they can be declared ineligible their first year unless they completely blow off all their classes. And you know they're taking very soft schedules to begin with. It also results in too many kids going to the NBA well before they're ready for it. I'm sick of seeing kids players like D. Morris being duped into jumping to the NBA early and their careers going nowhere. What a waste.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 6:56 p.m.

I agree with you totally, these high school kids and one and done kids have completely watered down the NBA. There have been a select few that were ready but that is like the 1% turn into Lebron James while the other 99% turn into Kwame Brown. I wish the Nba would adopt a policy like the NFL at least 3 yrs removed from high school. It would produce a much more higher quality product for the NBA while also keeping college hoops better.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

I think he should stay. When Manny Harris left it was understandable; size, experience and upside was limited. Trey Burke is small for an NBA player and frankly his body of work (especially his last two games) were not too impressive from an NBA scouts perspective He comes back and is likely to be the key to a very good team and advances far into the tournament. BTW, Darius Morris is still listed on the Lakers roster and what is this Michigan man stuff?


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 2:42 p.m.

Too tempting to lement on the "I want it now Generation". You can list 101 financial reasons to cash in as well. In short, he should stay one to two years. Perhaps Mr Sullinger at TOSU is asking himself about staying on an extra year but haste makes waste in both cases. Trey Burke may never be a genuine NBA player and he'd better be aware of that possibility. Be a star now, at Michigan, get the college degree at Michigan and have fun at school.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

Maybe school isn't fun for him.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.

I always love this headline, as if we are the ones who decide whats best for Trey Burke. lol How about this, "Trey, do what you want."


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

Think of us as the extended family and offering comments on what's best for the individual. He should do what's best for him and I wish him success, either way.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

May as well get over it Michigan fans...he's gone. Why do you think Beilein flew across the country this week to recruit that point guard? He knows...


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

This kid is no way ready for NBA. If he has any sense he will stay. I personally do not think even after 4 years he is not going to do much in the NBA. To small and not quick enough. Harris and Morris where both better and taller at this point. If Harris and Morris are not the perfect example. Good Luck !.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

If you don't like going to school (and many people don't) then college basketball is like working a full time job in order to play minor league basketball (sorry Michigan fans but going to classes, studying, etc even at UM is not for everyone). Even without a big-time contract or even an NBA career the opportunity to earn several hundred thou a year in D league or Europe might seem better than college to some players.


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 2:12 a.m.

Um, D-Leagures make around 24,000 a season. Europe will get players money but no fame. Undrafted, non-designated NBDLers choose the D-League less for money and more about the potential of getting looked at much easier and more often then Euro scouts. D-Leaguers are playing for potential 10-day contracts and a Linsane shot. Does Burke really want to lessen his chance at a guaranteed FREE education at a premier university for the D-Leagu potential? I hope not, not just for the UM team, but because he's got a lot to develop before he's a 1st round guarantee. His height is less of an issue. He needs to become a better passer, defender, and ball-handler. He's good in each area, but not great. His shooting waxed and waned, and was gone most of the final month of the season.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 11:19 a.m.

If Trey decides to test the NBA, he does so at his own peril without a college degree. While he is a good player, he definitely is not ready for "prime time". If his focus is on advancing to the NBA to make the big bucks, maybe Michigan would be the better for it in the future.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 10:58 a.m.

Burke should stay. Why? Two words....Darius Morris.


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 3:11 p.m.

Morris is making more money now than he would be in Ann Arbor. Even if your position is "bench warmer," you make pretty good money as long as you hold that position.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 10:53 a.m.

So, should Burke stay or go? Speaking strictly from am intelligent mind, Burke should remain on college for st least another year. Preferably 2. I absolutely loved Trey this past season. He made us all say, Darius Morris who? But to enter the NBA because of some of the reasons Nick listed in this article is just agregious to me. Trey don't become another thoudandaire statistic that plays for 10 day contracts after your rookie contract has expired. Trey, you're more talented than both Harris and Morris, without question, but lets try bring smarter. Lets pay close attention to the footprints embedded within the path they took. If just hearing your name on draft day or having a presence in the NBA is all u desire then the NBA awaits u, but if you're wiser and want some substance go your NBA career then pay your dues in college and perfect your craft. Shane Battier has never been without a NBA team. (Just a note )


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 10:32 a.m.

If he is to leave... I understand why ohio didn't want him... I just don't feel like he is/was a true Michigan Man... Yet...


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 11:01 a.m.

I'm not negative by no means, but I understand what you said. At times I see the Michigan Man in him, then there are times I just see a kid trying to prove to ohio and sullinger that he belong on that team. I'm a huge Trey fan so it hurts even saying that. GO BLUE!!!


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 10:28 a.m.

Ahhh????? I dont know where u got your info from Nick, but Mr Morris is currently playing in the D-League, after being recently cut by the Lakers. Not to mention right afterwards LA traded to get pg Sessions so its safe to say that LA wont be calling Morris anytime soon. Now as for Harris, although he's signed with the Cavs throughout the remainder of the season, he hasn't had a multiple yr contract since he's entered the League.


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

Morris was recalled from the D League on Friday, this says:

Nick Baumgardner

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 4:24 p.m.

DB, Morris was demoted to the NBADL for a stint earlier this season, but was then recalled the day after the Lakers traded for Ramon Sessions. He was then day-to-day with a wrist injury. He still rarely sees action, but did get on the court earlier this week against Dallas. As I said, he's still on the team. Harris, same deal. I never wrote he signed a multi-year deal. He signed with an NBA team (Cleveland) for the remainder of the year, and currently sits on an NBA roster right now. Nick