Aug. 14, 2012
To say that Trey Burke had an exciting freshman year on the University of Michigan's men's basketball team is an understatement. Burke was the first Wolverine since 1998 to be named Associated Press All-America honorable mention, along with being named Big Ten Freshman of the Year (media) and U-M's Most Valuable Player.
Burke started 33 of 34 games last season and scored more than 500 points, and set a new U-M freshman assist record, dishing out 156 assists throughout the season. He was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week seven times, leading the team in scoring with 14.8 points per game. The star point guard also led the team in steals (31) and blocks (13).
In an exclusive one-on-one interview with MGoBlue.com's Morgan Bailey, Burke discussed the elite skill camps he attended this summer, his role on the team as a leader, and how he plans to improve upon his record-setting freshman campaign.
On his experience at the different skill camps he was invited to this summer ... "All the camps I went to were definitely significant to the development and growth of my game. To play with some of the best college basketball players and be coached by some of the best coaches meant a lot to me. I'm glad I had the opportunity to experience it. The Chris Paul Camp was more of a teaching camp. We didn't really play a lot of five-on-five or anything like that. They had us doing a lot of drills for the first two days and then we played on the last day, so I learned the most from that camp. The Deron Williams Camp was more of an open-gym showcase camp. There were still some instructions to it though. The LeBron James Camp was more about just playing and we played a lot. We would warm up, do two or three drills and then go right into playing, and that went on for all three days. I learned a lot, and I'm really glad I got to have those opportunities. "
On if he ever got nervous in those high pressure settings ... "Not really. I didn't really know what to expect going into the Chris Paul camp, after that one I pretty much knew what to expect for the next ones so I wasn't really that nervous."
On what it was like participating at these camps with other players in the Big Ten ... "It wasn't really weird at all. I talk to other players in the Big Ten. I pretty much talked to everyone at all of the camps. We're all cool. We definitely brought up the match-ups coming up this year, whether it was Tim Frazier (Penn State), Aaron Craft (Ohio State) or B.J. Young (Arkansas)."
On the atmosphere after a Big Ten championship and early NCAA Tourney exit last season ... "We are really just trying to continue to move forward. Last year is over with. It was definitely a disappointing loss that ended our season and that our two seniors, Zack (Novak) and Stu (Douglass), weren't able to go out on the note that they wanted to go out on, but that is why we are in the gym right now. We're getting better. The recruits look really good and we'll make up for that loss and move forward."
On how he plans on improving his game this year ... "I just want to make everyone around me better. I know that a lot of teams are going to have me at the top of their scouting reports, so it's my job to get everyone else involved and open the doors for everyone else involved. We have a lot more weapons this year. Everyone returning has really worked so hard this summer and the freshmen look really good. They should be able to help us. I'm focused on making people better, hitting open shots and running the offense like I did last year. I don't really want to change anything. I just want to play my game and that is what I am concentrating on the most."
On welcoming the freshmen to the team ... "It has definitely gone well. They've adapted quickly. Right now they are going through a lot because they have classes and they have to adjust. With the basketball part, they are getting more comfortable every day and they're asking questions. They want to learn. That is the best thing to see from freshmen. They want to learn, and they want to get better immediately."
On if he sees himself playing more of a leadership role this season ... "Definitely. I definitely have to be a leader, especially with me being a floor general. I have to get everyone where they need to be, not just on the court but off the court as well, and at practice. I have to have a voice this year and it will go a long way."
On if stepping into a leadership role on the team has come naturally to him ... "I have tried to be a leader most of my life and on most of the teams that I have played on, whether it's middle school, high school or AAU. Last year, it didn't really come out as much because we had two seniors that I respected very much. I probably showed more leadership on the court than off of it, but this year, I think it will come more natural in terms of showing leadership off the court."
On how he has handled all of the attention after excelling at the Division I level in his first year ... "Stay humble. I know how high I can get, but I can also feel that low. If I have a bad game, there it is. Last year I had a lot of good games, but I also had some bad games. That humbled me a lot. I don't let the hype get to me. I have been here before. In high school, we were the No. 1 team in the country. I have had success in basketball before so I just stay grounded and keep playing my game because I know that no one is bigger than the game."
On his goals for the upcoming season ... "First of all, I want to win another Big Ten championship and go as far as we can in the NCAA Tournament. You never know what can happen in March. Other than that, I haven't really thought about any goals. It's kind of weird. I just want to have another good year. I want to win this year. That is more important than anything. As long as we are winning, then my personal goals will take care of themselves."