Michigan sophomore point guard Trey Burke, who has led the Wolverines to the their first Final Four appearance since the Fab Five in 1993, was named The Associated Press college basketball player of the year on Thursday.
Burke received 31 votes from the 65-member national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25. He beat out Otto Porter Jr. of Georgetown, who was second with 16 votes. Victor Oladipo of Indiana finished third with 10 votes.
He now joins Cazzie Russell in 1966 as the only Michigan players to win the award. Burke has averaged 19.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 6.7 assists this season, while shooting 40.1 percent from behind the 3-point line. His numbers and play also led to him being voted Big Ten player of the year.
“He has been with three to five freshmen all year long,” Michigan coach John Beilein said Thursday. “Here he is the cagey sophomore, veteran sophomore…Those young guys look at Trey, they see poise, they see patience. It’s worked very well.”
Burke’s biggest performance of the year came in the Elite 8 against the Kansas Jayhawks when he led the Wolverines from a 14-point deficit to a 87-85 overtime victory. He finished the game with 23 points and did all of his scoring in the second half and overtime. But the biggest shot he took was a 3-pointer in the final moments of regulation to tie the game at 76-76 and take it into overtime.
“We never had the mindset that we were going to lose the game,” Burke said afterward. “When we were down 14, we knew anything could still happen. It’s March, anything can happen.”
The Wolverines will now look to Burke to guide them past the Syracuse Orangemen on Saturday. If the Wolverines are successful in defeating the Orangemen, they will await the winner of the Louisville and Wichita State game. It will be the first they have played in the national championship game since 1992 and 1993, when the Fab Five led the Wolverines.