Detroit • On more than one occasion over the last couple years, Trey Burke made the hourlong drive from his college campus in Ann Arbor to catch a Pistons game at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
On Friday night, Burke will be there again — this time as one of the main attractions.
After de-committing from Penn State and settling on Michigan, Burke helped lead the Wolverines to a national championship game and a prominence the Wolverines hadn’t experienced since the days of the Fab Five. So the return of the reigning college player of the year promises to be kind of a big deal.
“He’s huge,” Jazz coach Ty Corbin said with a smile. “I can only imagine the circus that’s waiting for him when he gets back.”
There have been requests for tickets and autographs. There will be friends and family from Ohio and buddies from college on hand. Michigan coach John Beilein is expected to be in attendance as well.
But as Burke returns to the state of Michigan, he’s trying to keep his focus on the task at hand.
“It’s not really no different than any other road game,” he said. “I don’t want to look at it like that. I don’t want to go in pressing or anything like that. I just want to play it out like a regular game. It is a regular game at the end of the day.”
As Burke helped Michigan return to national prominence, the Wolverines’ run through the NCAA Tournament also helped boost Burke’s draft stock.
Still, the choice to declare himself eligible for the NBA draft following his sophomore year was a tough one.
“I would have loved to win a national championship. That’s first and foremost,” he said. “At the same time, just that college experience. You always want to remember that. I was only in college for two years.”
Burke also wanted to make sure he was ready as a player to make the leap to the NBA.
“I think talking it over with my coaching staff at Michigan and with my family, I think it was the right decision.”