On November 3rd, 2011, Michigan acquired a commitment from Brewster Academy Center Mitch McGary. At the time of the announcement, McGary was thought of as the biggest recruit Michigan had been able to snag since the days of the Fab Five.
On Monday, the Wolverines announced the commitment of another player vital to the program’s success moving forward, point guard Trey Burke.
“We’re obviously very excited about this,” said Beilein Monday. “About the future of this team, you can see these guys behind me and this is an exciting part of basketball today. That there’s so much change and transition, you can’t look at it as doom and gloom. The game continues to survive and it survives with young men who are faced with very important challenges and decisions.”
Burke’s decision between pursuing an NBA career after just one season in Ann Arbor or returning to the Wolverines for his sophomore year had speculation running rampant both privately and publically over the past few weeks.
“It was definitely stressful at times,” said Burke. “When it got to that type of point I just relaxed and you know decided just to look at it as a positive. I know a lot of players who would love to be in the position to conquer their goals of playing in the NBA like I have this past year and you know whenever it got to the stressful points or the depressing points for me, I just embraced the moment and allowed it to be just another process. It felt more like my recruiting process, it was a really tough decision.”
Fortunately for the 19 year old Burke, this life altering decision wasn’t made on his own. Burke, along with his family, the coaching staff and other peers came to a conclusion that returning to Michigan is in his best interest.
“Talking it over with my family, praying on it, I just felt like I could develop more and I feel like me coming back to this team next year, we have a great shot of competing for another Big Ten championship and competing for a national championship which was our goal this last year,” said Burke. “You know, losing that first game to Ohio was one of the most disappointing times of the year for us and I just felt like we have unfinished business and you know, with the recruits coming in and the returning players, I feel like we have a great chance of winning a national championship.”
A national report last week indicated Burke was all but gone from Ann Arbor and ready to work towards an NBA career, which has been a dream of his for a long time. Just how close was Burke to moving on?
“It was a point where I was considering leaving, I was never really two feet all the way in,” said Burke. “Sometimes I was more on leaving and sometimes I was more on coming back and I think like I said, after talking it over with the coaches and with my family, the final decision I made was to come back and I think that was the best decision for me. It was more of a risk for me to leave and you know declare for the NBA draft. I feel like I can come back and be a part of this team next year.”
With three transfers less than a week after the Wolverines season ended and the potential departure of Burke to the NBA, the Michigan coaching staff had to get back to work on the 2012 class but as Beilein notes, it’s all a part of the game in this day and age.
“You have to continue to recruit knowing that if you’re recruiting really good players this is always an option,” said Beilein. “You have to prepare for the future, you just can’t stop looking at what you may be having in one or two years from now, you just have to continue to do it. Now you lose people along the way because you have to make decisions and you can’t have too many scholarships in one year where you may not have enough. Just look at it, and look at your options for the future.”
With just seven players on scholarship right now and four freshmen expected to move in and enroll on June 25th, Michigan will be looking to take advantage of the new NCAA rule in regards to individual workout’s with student-athletes during the summer as the team tries to build and expand upon the chemistry built during the 2011-2012 season.
“We can work with players this summer so that will really help us, including the incoming freshmen,” said Beilein. “We’ll be able to see what they can do, so that’s another, it’ll be about 16 hours of practice we’ve never had over the summer, 8 weeks at 2 hours a piece, might be 14 for us; yeah it’s going to be really good, it’s good for college basketball that we can be with these young men in the summer.”
With the return of Burke, expectations for the 2012-2013 Wolverines will be as high as they’ve been in well over a decade with the possibility of being able to compete nationally and be a true threat to make it to Atlanta for the Final Four next April.
“That’s good, that’s really good to have high expectations,” said Beilein. “That means you have a good team. Now I do think we’re going to have some freshmen that are freshmen and if anybody could predict that that young man could do what he did as a freshman, no one in this room thought we’d be standing here one year later after he signed his letter of intent last year, so expectations are what they are but it’s good, it’s better than the alternative but we just, deal with whatever comes our way.”
For video of Burke and Beilein discussing the news of Burke’s decision click play below.