There was a chance, however small, that Colorado was going to lose its star freshman if it hired anyone other than CU associate head coach Steve McClain to fill the vacancy left by Jeff Bzdelik. Alec Burks, a projected first-round draft pick in 2011, is Colorado's best chance to make the NCAA tournament next year; Colorado desperately needed to retain him. It also didn't want to hire McClain.
So Colorado, like Wake Forest, took a risk: It hired Tad Boyle and hoped he could win over Burks and the rest of the Buffaloes in short order. (Chauncey Billups' approval was less necessary.) Burks was angry about the hire, stating publicly that he was going to "explore his options," -- in other words, a transfer. So Boyle began his charm offensive in the hopes of getting Burks back from the ledge. Turns out, it worked:
"He told me his plan, I liked it and I like him ... I'm putting all of my trust in him," Burks said. "He said we were going to play hard, play fast and go all out to win -- and I believe in that." Burks, whose 512 points made him the first CU freshman to surpass 500, said his mother also played a pivotal role in his decision: "She agreed that the best thing for me was to stay here ... I can see that, too. I like it a lot out here."
[...] Envisioning an NBA career, Burks said transferring to another Division I program and having to sit out a season per NCAA transfer rules didn't make sense.
"That's one of the things it came down to, too," he said. "My mom said the worst thing I could have done was act out of frustration ... I'm over that now. When I said all that I was just mad that coach McClain didn't get it. I was always pretty close to him, but I know I'm going to get close to coach Boyle, too."
Boyle certainly seems to have won Burks over, but to be fair, Burks was probably never going to leave. He has a chance at being drafted relatively high in the NBA draft as soon as 2011. Transferring means sitting out a year and playing the year afterward, delaying those NBA aspirations for another two years. It would have been an emotional decision, and a silly one.
Now, though, Colorado can begin focusing on the immediate future. With Burks in the lineup, will that future include a tournament berth? The Buffaloes are getting closer.