Commentary

Uncertainty brings back Burke

Big Ten co-Freshman of the Year sets sights on 'unfinished business'

Updated: April 9, 2012, 6:14 PM ET
By Chantel Jennings | WolverineNation

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It was last Wednesday, on a car ride back home with his parents for Easter break, that freshman point guard Trey Burke decided he would not enter the NBA draft and return to the University of Michigan.

"After talking it over with my family and my coaches, discussing it with some of the players, I felt like it was the best decision for me to stay for my sophomore year and compete for a national championship," Burke said.

[+] EnlargeMichigan's Trey Burke
AP Photo/Kiichiro SatoTrey Burke said his former AAU coach Satch Sullinger, Jared's father, told him to stay at Michigan for another year.
The prior weekend Burke had been leaning more toward the NBA, though those feelings seemed to change often, with Burke never really being "two feet all the way in" until his final decision to stay in Ann Arbor.

Part of that decision was due to the fact he knew staying at Michigan would help him develop more as a player. But he also decided it would be a risk to leave because of the uncertainties of the draft and where he would be selected.

"[My parents] laid out the pros and cons for me to leave and laid out the pros and cons for me to come back," Burke said. "At the end of the decision I felt like it was in my best interest and the team's best interest for me to come back."

Throughout the entire process he kept in communication with the coaching staff. Coach John Beilein said they spoke nearly every day, and players said they spoke with Burke when they had the chance.

"It was a pretty private matter," junior guard Josh Bartelstein said. "I talked to Trey a little bit because we are pretty good friends, just about hearing different things and trying to help him out. But it was him, coach and his family trying to make a decision, and we understood it is such a big choice it is up to him and his family."

Burke texted with former Michigan point guard Darius Morris -- who left for the NBA after last season and is now playing with the Los Angeles Lakers -- more than a month ago to get Morris' input. Morris told Burke to do what Burke felt was best and to be confident in his final decision.

He also reached out to former high school teammate and Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger, who declared for the NBA draft last Tuesday. Burke said the two texted quite a bit and that he also spoke with Sullinger's father, Satch, who coached both boys in high school.

"Both of them pretty much said the same thing -- they were going to support me either way I went," Burke said. "Coach Sullinger was honest with me and he told me that he thinks I should stay another year because I can develop more."

While it was last Wednesday that Burke made his decision to stay, it wasn't until Monday that his teammates found out. Each player received a text message from Beilein around 1 p.m., informing them of the news.

Burke said he believes returning to Michigan to play with his teammates will help the Wolverines have a chance to play for championships, something Burke called "unfinished business."

"I saw how bright the future was for this team if I were to come back," Burke said. "[I saw] how close we were this year to conquering our goals, but with the three freshmen coming in, I see the future for us is that much brighter."

The Wolverines now begin preparing for next season and have already turned their focus toward the 2012-13 Big Ten championship.

"In time we'll see what was the best decision for him," Beilein said Burke staying. "I think it's a great decision for Michigan basketball."

Chantel Jennings | email

Oregon/Pac-12 reporter