There has been no formal announcement, but it appears Michigan will have to find another starting point guard for the second straight year.
Trey Burke, Big ten co-freshman of the year and an AP honorable mention All-American, is headed for the NBA after one season, according to a CBS Sports report Wednesday.
But Burke’s father, Benji, via Twitter shortly after the story was published, said his son hasn’t made a decision.
At least not yet.
“Trey Burke has not declared for the NBA draft,” his father wrote. “He is still enrolled at the University of Michigan.”
CBS Sports, citing “sources,” said Burke is expected to leave the Wolverines, although he has three years of eligibility remaining, and will declare for the NBA. April 29 is the last day underclassmen can declare for the draft.
It would be the second straight season Michigan has lost its starting point guard. Darius Morris left early last season, and the 5-foot-11 Burke filled in and averaged 14.8 points, 4.6 assists and 3.5 rebounds.
What would Burke’s departure, on the heels of three transfers from the Michigan program — Evan Smotrycz, Colton Christian and Carlton Brundidge — mean for the Wolverines?
“I think with Trey Burke they are contenders at the top of the Big ten and definitely an NCAA team with the probability of playing in the Sweet 16 and beyond,” said Tim McCormick, an ESPN analyst who played basketball at Michigan. “Without him I see Michigan as middle of the pack. NCAA Tournament? I don’t know. A lot of it depends on whether they can get an adequate replacement.”
Projections for Burke’s draft status range from late first round to second round. there has been some issue with his height.
“It is a little bit of a knock, but not as bad as it used to be,” said ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas. “The NBA is less physical as a game than college basketball, so that’s not as detrimental as it used to be.”
Bilas wondered whether Burke was affected by Ohio State sophomore Jared Sullinger, a former teammate at Columbus Northland High. Sullinger, who declared his NBA intentions Wednesday, was considered a better NBA prospect last year.
“I haven’t talked to (Burke) about this, but this might be a function of a young man striking while the iron is hot,” Bilas said, adding Burke may have learned from Sullinger’s college career.
McCormick doesn’t believe an early departure is in Burke’s best interest.
“I think that if he leaves, in my opinion, he’s making a mistake from the standpoint that I know it’s somewhat of a weak point-guard draft, and he’s still considered the seventh, eighth, ninth prospect,” McCormick said. “I don’t think he’ll be a first-round draft pick. He’s a really good player, and I believe the money is going to be there for him, but if you’re not a first-round pick, you’re not guaranteed. There’s a chance if he’s a second-round pick he’ll be playing in Europe next year, and that’s not a great situation.
“I respect his desire to be in the NBA, but there’s not a lot of time to develop. I talked to Darius Morris at length when he was playing the Pistons, and he loves being in the NBA but he misses playing.”
But early departures are a function of the times in college basketball.
“You recruit good players, they’re going to leave,” Bilas said. “No top player has been able to escape this. A lot of people like to get self-righteous about, ‘How can you leave? Where’s the loyalty?’ But if people came to us with multi-million dollar contracts, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to take it.”
Michigan coach John Beilein’s team won a share of the Big ten regular-season title this year with Burke. It was Michigan’s first title in 26 years.
But now? If Burke does leave, it will mean a significant amount of rebuilding.
“You can’t count on guys staying anymore,” Bilas said. “Years ago you brought in a player like Trey, you’d recruit another point guard to come in his junior year.
“The game is changing. It’s hard to adapt to it. I don’t think anybody when they were recruiting Trey looked at him as a one-year player. People say don’t recruit one-and-dones, and it would be nice if it were that cut and dry and simple. It would be nice if were 1985, but it’s not.”
Clearly, Beilein knows he has to make some moves. Point guard Spike Albrecht of Northfield (Mass.) Mount Herman is visiting Ann Arbor on Thursday, according to UMhoops.com. The website reported Albrecht’s high school coach expects a Michigan offer for the point guard.