“I think I was able to come back, mature for another year, grow mentally and physically,” Burke said. “And I was able to come back and be more of a leader, really.
“Going back to school, the whole college experience, that was something I needed again. I wanted to come back and still be a kid again. I think that’s allowed me to grow up as well.”
Burke was able to win big, too, with a run to the Final Four, followed by his national player of the year recognition.
Izzo noted that with reporters.
“He came back and got to go to a Final Four. That’s something a lot of guys will never get to do,” Izzo said. “There’s a lot of players who were good enough, but just because they decided to leave early… I don’t criticize them for wanting to make money either.
“That’s a good politician’s answer.”
Izzo said he saw Smart on TV, and liked what he saw.
“He’s the kind of guy I love,” Izzo said. “He’s like a linebacker in a basketball uniform.
“There’s not a lot of guys that I think play both ends and are as physically gifted as he is. That part of him, on the tube anyway, looked pretty impressive. I’m glad we didn’t have to face him.”
Maybe, however, there’s still a chance. And maybe Izzo will have a hand in it.
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