Taking the Lead
Michigan’s incoming freshman Trey Burke is ready to lead the offense for the Wolverines.
by Franklyn Calle /@FrankieC7
When Darius Morris made it official on May 4th that he would be leaving his name in the NBA Draft instead of returning to Ann Arbor, then Northland High School senior Trey Burke knew all about its significance. There was a strong chance that he would be the Michigan Wolverine’s starting point guard as a freshman. Named Ohio’s 2011 Mr. Basketball, the 6-1 guard will now have to take over the reigns much earlier than he had probably expected — considering Burke is technically the lone pure one-guard on the roster. But despite what many might be saying, the starting point guard gig isn’t quite his yet. He still needs to go in and outwork his upperclassmen combo guards teammates to secure his spot.
Burke has put a lot of sacrifice and time to get to this point. He would wake up at 4:30am every morning to meet with his personal trainer. By 5:15am, the Columbus (OH) native was already running hills and doing other strength and conditioning drills, as well as on-court basketball drills. The workout would go approximately three-hour strong until 8am — the time in which most of his counterparts are just starting their day. Now taking summer classes at Michigan, Burke has already begun his quest to become the Wolverines’ new floor general.
As a senior, Burke averaged 23.6 points, 6.8 assists, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.6 steals. He carried the team all the way to the state championship, where they fell short to Cincinnati LaSalle. He spent his first three years of high school in the shadow of his friend and former high school teammate Jared Sullinger — where the team enjoyed the national spotlight and even a state championship in 2009.
Burke is the subject of an online documentary chronicling his path to the University of Michigan called, “Trey Burke Journey to Ann Arbor.” The series consists of six episodes that display the future Wolverine’s daily life. Below is the series finale. To catch more episodes, check out We are God’s Image Sports Training website — whose trainers have been equipping Burke for the next level.
SLAMonline caught up with the highly touted freshman, as he prepares to become one of the leaders of the Big Ten.
SLAM: Why did you choose Michigan?
Trey Burke: Just having an opportunity to play in the Big Ten and play against all these top players — I’m looking forward to it. I have a great opportunity to come in and fight for a starting position. We have a good team coming back, everybody is returning. So I’m just excited for the opportunity.
SLAM: You initially committed to Penn State. What made you want to reopen your recruitment?
TB: I felt like I committed a little too early. It was my first Big Ten offer, so I was excited. But after talking to my dad, we felt like that was a good opportunity but their record started dropping and the coach – I didn’t even know if he was still going to be there. So I just wanted to reopen it because I had a big summer that year. Everybody was telling me to reopen it because I could get big offers. After doing that, Michigan came into the table a little late in my recruiting process. But once I got out on campus, met some players and got a chance to talk to the coaches, I felt like that was the best opportunity for me.
SLAM: How does it feel to be named Mr. Basketball for Ohio?
TB: It’s a blessing. It’s a goal that I set before the year started. A personal accolade. I feel like I’m blessed to be in the same category of some great names.
SLAM: Did you expect or think you had a chance at getting all these accolades when it was all said and done?
TB: I expected some local stuff. Not anything really big. I never looked at it that way. I knew I was going to be a good player. I knew I was going to be able to go wherever I wanted to go. I never really thought of it as being Mr. Basketball.
SLAM: With Darius Morris now gone to the NBA, you’re expected to fill big shoes. What do you expect from yourself at Ann Arbor?
TB: I’m just ready to go in and show them what I got. I expect to come in and make a real big impact. I expect to come in and get everybody involved and score whenever it’s my time to score. I’m just ready to play.
SLAM: Some people say that you’ll be the starting point guard next season. Has that been confirmed to you?
TB: No. I feel like nothing is confirmed. I gotta’ go in and earn everything. I don’t feel like I’m starting right now. I feel like I have to go in and fight for that. So I wouldn’t say that I’m starting right now.
SLAM: What is your summer workout regimen looking like?
TB: I’m on campus, I can workout whenever. Get with the strength and conditioning coach. I’m sure whatever schedule my strength and conditioning coach has me on, that’ll be the workout.
SLAM: You made it all the way to the state finals this year but unfortunately felt short. How tough was it to end your high school career on that note?
TB: It was cool. I got over it eventually. But just to make it all the way there this year was something special. A lot of people can’t say they did that. I was happy after reaching the state finals. I felt like it was just another one those where you can’t win them all.
SLAM: If you had to sum up your high school career – all four years, how would you describe it?
TB: I’d describe it as very good. I’m proud of everything I earned, everything I reached. It’s just a blessing.
SLAM: I’ve read that you are trying to gain some pounds this summer before the season hits. How much are you looking to gain?
TB: I’m trying to get up to about 185. I’m at around 177 right now, so about 8 pounds.
SLAM: What’s your strategy to making this happen?
TB: You know, lifting weights, and trying to eat a lot – like a lot of protein, taking protein shakes and stuff like that. Whatever it takes to help put weight on me, that’s what I’m trying to do.
SLAM: You played at the same high school as Jared Sullinger. Do you guys stay in touch?
TB: We stay in touch a lot. We don’t stay in touch as much as we used to or as much as we would probably like, but whenever we around each other we are talking and communicating and stuff. We might go to a party together or something.
SLAM: Were you shocked when he decided to stay another year at Ohio State?
TB: I was very shocked. I was one that thought he was gonna’ leave for sure. But whatever is best for him is cool with me.
SLAM: You actually reached the 1,000-point milestone on the day he returned to be honored by the school. What was that feeling like?
TB: It was a good feeling. That’s one goal I did want to set when I came into high school – scoring 1,000 is something I did want to get just to do it. Like I said, another blessing from God. I’m looking forward to getting more.
SLAM: How old were you when you first began playing basketball and who introduced you to the game?
TB: It was about first or second grade when I started taking it serious. I started playing AAU. Basically, my dad, he was my coach and had started an AAU team. From there on, I’ve just been working real hard and it has gotten me to where I am right now.
SLAM: What are your expectations for Michigan this upcoming season?
TB: We plan to win the Big Ten Tournament. You know, make the NCAA Tournament and go far. That’s my number one thing — is to win. Have a good record.
SLAM: As for you, what are some of the personal goals that you want to set for yourself this freshman year?
TB: I’m trying to be Big Ten Freshman of the Year. It’s a big goal but I know it’s something I’m capable of getting because of the situation that I’m in. I’m trying be Big Ten Player of the Week. And get to the NCAA Tournament, of course. That’s about it.
SLAM: What are you looking to study at Michigan?
TB: I’ll probably study something in the field of sports management. I haven’t really decided yet. I know me and mom are going to look into that. But I haven’t really decided yet. It will probably be sports management.
SLAM: Any specific player you like to watch and assimilate your game to the most?
TB: Allen Iverson. I like to compare myself to Iverson because he is one of my favorite players. Even though he doesn’t play in the NBA no more, when he was in his prime, I like to compare myself to him.
SLAM: What is the one part of your game that you would like to improve on the most for the next level?
TB: Just playing quicker and being more vocal. Right know, I know I can play at the college level. All I need is to get comfortable and all the little things to the college game but I would say that I have to work on being more vocal and talkish on defense. And then just playing quicker and adjusting to the college speed.