NBA draft: Burke waits out being picked, then gets traded
Trey Burke could start for the Jazz next season.
Trey Burke went later than he expected in the NBA draft, but he could not have asked for a better landing spot.
The Northland High School graduate and former Michigan point guard did not work out for a team that selected later than seventh, and he did not hear his name called last night until Minnesota picked him No. 9.
But the Timberwolves, who already have a top-flight young point guard in Ricky Rubio, immediately traded Burke to the Utah Jazz, who do not.
Veteran Mo Williams ran the point for the Jazz last season but is an unrestricted free agent, so Burke could enter training camp as the presumptive starter.
“I just needed an opportunity,” said Burke, who admitted he was nervous after Detroit passed on him at No.8 because he had not talked with any teams below the Pistons in the round.
“It was like, ‘Now I don’t know where I’m going to go,’ ” he said.
After his selection was announced, though, he had to sit in a room for two hours before he could meet the media after the NBA approved the trade between Minnesota and Utah.
Meanwhile, former Ohio State forward Deshaun Thomas waited until only three picks remained in the draft before he heard his name called. The San Antonio Spurs ended his anxiety when they made him the No. 58 selection.
Thomas was the Big Ten scoring leader last season but was rated a second-round pick reportedly because teams were concerned with his athleticism and ability to defend the small-forward position he will play as a pro. He played power forward at Ohio State.
“I’m a little bit surprised he lasted this long. I thought he’d be at the top of the second round because he can really score it,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said during the network broadcast.
Bilas said Thomas has a chance to play in the league despite his low draft number because of his scoring ability.
“That doesn’t mean he’s going to stick with the Spurs, but he’ll play in the league,” Bilas said.
Thomas’ selection gave the Buckeyes at least one pick in each of the past seven drafts, the longest streak among college basketball programs.
Burke is the 11th product of a central Ohio high school to be taken in the first round of the draft, and the first top-10 pick since Antonio Daniels of DeSales went No. 4 in 1997 to the Vancouver (now Memphis) Grizzlies.
Dozens of his relatives and friends were at Barclays Center in New York to see him realize a lifelong dream. They traveled there on a chartered bus that left Columbus late Wednesday.
“I have a lot of supporters and there’s a lot of love from where I grew up,” Burke said. “I know without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. Those people pushed me to become even better.”
Jared Sullinger came from Boston to celebrate with his former high-school teammate.
Burke and Sullinger won a state championship at Northland and are the first teammates from a local high school to each be an NBA first-round pick. The only other local school to have had more than one first-round pick is East (Ed Ratleff in 1973 and Chuckie Williams in ’76).
Sullinger, who left Ohio State after his sophomore season, was drafted 21st by Boston last year. A two-time All-American, he also would have been a lottery pick had it not been for concerns about the health of his lower back. He had back surgery in February and missed the rest of the season.
Burke said he and Sullinger, who are a year apart in age and grew up close friends, used to talk about the day both would play in the NBA. They weren’t joking, Burke said.
“Now that we’re there, it’s great looking back on how we grew up together and played together, and seeing how far we’ve come, how our hard work has paid off. It’s a blessing,” he said.