BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Shooting guard Alec Burks is leaving Colorado early for the NBA draft after a record-setting sophomore season with the Buffaloes.
Burks was joined by Colorado coach Tad Boyle and his teammates at a news conference to announce his decision Thursday. Burks said he wresteld for weeks with the notion of skipping his final two years of eligibility, and consulted with his family, coaches and others, including former Colorado star and current New York Knicks guard Chauncey Billups.
“It was tough,” said Burks, who plans to hire an agent in the coming days. “I was really deciding on coming back. I wasn’t ready to give up the college experience. But I had to make the best decision for myself, and that’s what I feel like I did.”
The NBA draft is scheduled for June 23.
“The NBA is a dream of mine,” Burks said. “I feel like I’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Boyle said that Burks is ready to make the jump to the professional ranks and he fully supported his decision.
“Obviously, he’s proved he can produce in one of the best leagues in the country and at the highest levels of college basketball,” Boyle said. “You’re talking about a situation where Alec can put himself on a course to take care of himself and his family for years to come. It’s hard to begrudge anybody that opportunity, especially someone who has worked as hard as he’s worked.”
Burks’ consistently productive play at Colorado has made his draft stock rise.
The 6-foot-6 guard ranks third on the school scoring list with an average of 19 points per game. He set the single-season scoring record of 779 points this season while helping Colorado reach the NIT semifinals in New York, and also set the freshman scoring record of 512 points.
Several mock drafts project Burks going in the middle of the first round, though Burks believes he has the potential to be a lottery pick.
“I’m going to work on everything to get my game right for the NBA,” he said.
Boyle believes Colorado’s basketball future remains bright, adding that it is better off in the long run having had Burks the past two seasons.
“We’re not as good and we’re not as experienced, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a great year,” Boyle said. “I’m optimistic, and I’m proud of Alec. This is something we can use as a positive in our recruiting efforts. Part of coming to this campus is following your dream and whether you’re a basketball player or a chemical engineer or whatever the case may be, you want to follow your dream. Alec’s dream is to play in the NBA and he’s realized that at Colorado.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)