Trey Burke just finished one of the best seasons that a college basketball player has had in recent memory.
He averaged 18.6 points and 6.7 assists on the season, hitting 46.3% from the floor and 38.4% from three. He proved himself to be one of the most clutch players in the country — will anyone forget this 30-footer he hit against Kansas anytime soon? — and he had one of the best seasons, from an efficiency perspective, that we’ve seen in the Kenpom era. He led his team to the National Title game, and in the process more-than-likely played his way into the NBA Draft’s lottery.
And to think, Burke was all-but gone last season.
His bags were packed. He was out the door before somehow being convinced to pull his name out of consideration and return to Michigan for his sophomore season.
What a great decision that turned out to be, but it’s not the way that it usually plays out for potential first round picks.
Harrison Barnes, Perry Jones III and Jared Sullinger all pulled their names out of the 2011 NBA Draft and returned to school for their sophomore season. All three were top five picks had they left school. Barnes went seventh in 2012. Sullinger went 21st. Jones went 28th. James Michael McAdoo would have been a lottery pick in the 2012 draft. He might have to return to North Carolina for next season. Cody Zeller is probably still a top ten pick this season after returning to school for his sophomore campaign, but that has more to do with the strength of the top of this draft than it does with the season that Zeller had.
Tony Mitchell from North Texas went from being a lottery pick to a potential second-rounder. Mike Moser went from a potential first round pick to having to transfer out of UNLV to get playing time. Frankly, it’s rare to find a guy that pulled his name out of NBA Draft consideration and managed to shoot his way up NBA Draft boards the way that Burke did.
But Burke did it.
He returned to school and he played his way into being a lottery pick.
Does that mean that it’s in the best interest of every potential draft pick to skip out on the draft? No, of course not.
But Burke proved that it’s possible to improve your NBA Draft standing by returning to school for a season.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.