What Trey Burke's Return Means for Michigan

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Trey Burke #3 of the Michigan Wolverines drives for a shot attempt against the Ohio State Buckeyes during their Semifinal game of the 2012 Big Ten Men's Basketball Conference Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

After a few weeks of speculation and hand-wringing over the potential departure of Trey Burke, including a premature and erroneous CBS Report that led off with "Trey Burke is leaving Michigan after just one season," the Michigan Athletic Department announced today that Burke would not enter the NBA Draft and he will return to Ann Arbor for his sophomore season. Burke was rumored to have been on the verge of declaring for the draft and an inappropriate and invasive picture tweeted by a writer for the campus newspaper seemed to corroborate the assumption that Burke was gone. Insiders, previously optimistic about the prospects of Burke returning, had basically conceded that he would leave. There must have been a change of heart in the last week or so, as Trey's announcement came as somewhat of a surprise. Regardless, Burke will be returning to Ann Arbor and just provided the first bit of unequivocally positive momentum for Michigan's Basketball program in the last month.

In my opinion, Burke would have made a mistake if he had left for the draft. There is still room for considerable improvement -- his passing, defense, and outside shooting could all use a bit of work -- so it's not like Burke has maxed out his potential yet. He's probably not going to get any bigger, but he certainly can improve his draft stock if he works on certain parts of his game. Since he wasn't assured the security of being a first-round pick, Burke wisely chose to stay in school.

With his return, Michigan will be a preseason top ten team that will be one of the best in the Big Ten. There are several important players that return for Michigan -- Tim Hardaway Jr stands out as someone who could make a huge impact, and Jordan Morgan is a fellow multi-year starter. The arrival of a highly-touted freshman class will also bring an infusion of talent to Ann Arbor as Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary, and Nick Stauskas all figure to see a lot of playing time. If Burke had left, Michigan wouldn't have had many desirable options at point guard: Eso Akunne is a little-used walk-on guard and Spike Albrecht will be a true freshman without any other major offers. Simply put, Burke's return not only provides Michigan with an All-Conference type player, it also fills what would have been a major hole at the point guard position.

This could be Michigan's tentative depth chart for next year:

One Two Three Four Five
Trey Burke Nick Stauskas Tim Hardaway Mitch McGary Jordan Morgan
Eso Akunne Matt Vogrich Glenn Robinson Glenn Robinson Jon Horford
Spike Albrecht - - - Matt Vogrich - - - Mitch McGary

With three freshmen playing major roles, getting the Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Year back will be a huge boost. I'm not sure if McGary will be at the four or the five and I don't know what role Glenn Robinson will play, but Trey Burke's return provides a lot of security for the point guard position and erases any question marks at the position. The depth isn't ideal, but Burke proved this year that he's capable of playing a lot of the time.

Now that Burke is officially back, the hype for Michigan's 2012-2013 season will continue to build. The Wolverines have been listed in the top ten of several Too-Early-Top-25 lists, and a Big Ten Title and possible Final Four run are definitely in the realm of possibility. It will be a while before we know how well the veterans and newcomers mix, but with Burke's return, Michigan has signaled that they'll be one of the best teams in the country next year.

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