Michigan's Trey Burke has the Big Ten's full attention after superb freshman run
ANN ARBOR -- Michigan State point guard Keith Appling will admit it.
When the Spartans first played Michigan last season in Ann Arbor, he knew one thing about the player he'd be guarding that night.
It wasn't Darius Morris.
"Before we played them, I honestly didn't know who Trey Burke was," Appling said last week. "But after we played them, I figured out he was pretty good."
Burke surprised plenty of people last season right out of the blocks, stepping into Michigan's starting lineup as a freshman and making people forget Morris' record-setting campaign a year earlier.
He went from a relatively non-celebrated three-star recruit to one of college basketball's biggest surprises early on. But he didn't stop there.
Burke went on to lead Michigan in scoring (14.8 points per game) and set Michigan's freshman assists record with 156 before wrapping the year as the co-Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Burke then tested the NBA waters before returning, and begins his sophomore season on All-America lists as well as the official Preseason All-Big Ten Team.
If members of the Big Ten didn't know him before, they certainly do now.
"I've been around him since I was playing AAU, I knew what he could do," said Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft, who joined Burke on the all-league team last week. "He dribbles the ball so many times, a lot of guys you can trap or whatever, but he keeps his dribble and always keeps probing.
"He's the same player (he was in AAU). He has the capability of making a play and turning your head, he's pretty consistent."
Penn State point guard Tim Frazier -- also an all-conference player -- knew Burke before he ever committed to Michigan, when he was verbally pledged to play at Penn State during his high school days.
Frazier says it's somewhat surprising to see the three-year transformation Burke has made from a relatively small prep point guard to one of the more valuable floor leaders in all of college basketball.
"I remember him visiting Penn State, he's changed since then," Frazier said. "Back then, he was a junior (in high school). And now he's a sophomore in college and he's really grown up as a player.
"He's gotten stronger, his game has improved, you can tell he's put those hours in. I don't think he surprised me, though, I knew he'd be a great player. Seeing him in a different uniform (other than Penn State) was weird, but he did what was best for him. I wish the best for him."
As for Burke? He's aware of the attention he's about to receive on the court and he says he's prepared for it.
Few knew his name coming out of high school. But now, not many don't.
"I expected to be here," Burke said. "I knew the type of work I put in, I never got the recognition (in high school) I was looking for. But last summer, I just made a decision to work so hard that I have to get noticed."
Now a bonafide star, Burke says he's comfortable with his role at Michigan and he's enjoying college life. People know his name on the court, and they know it off the court, too.
He gets noticed in class, noticed on campus and noticed around town in Ann Arbor.
Not as much as Denard Robinson, but that's just fine, too.
"I'm not on his level yet," Burke laughed.