In the spring, I wrote about how excited I was about the potential of this state’s returning Division I guards, Michigan‘s Trey Burke, Michigan State‘s Keith Appling and University of Detroit‘s Ray McCallum.
All three have done nothing to dissuade that excitement over the summer. Burke competed in both the Chris Paul and Deron Williams elite point guard camps. Reggie Rankin of ESPN.com wrote this about Burke’s performance at the Williams camp:
At 6-foot and 185 pounds, Burke has continued to improve. He has a great command of the ball and is a terrific open court passer.
He can also knock down open jumpers on the break or when reading the defense as he comes off ball screens, can nail ball-reversal spot up 3s and make a play when the offense breaks down. Burke has worked to become a complete point guard and his improvement is easy to see, along with his improved strength.
“I had to learn how to read the way teams were guarding me and then adjust to score and get my teammates involved,” he said. “I had to get in the film room and learn all the reads off pick-and-rolls and it has really paid off for me.”
Something else that should help Burke this season: John Beilein plans to scale back his minutes some, according to Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press. Burke played 36 minutes per game last season, mainly because Michigan couldn’t afford to take him off the court much, and he appeared to wear down just a bit towards the end of the season with that heavy workload. A fresher Burke should be able to attack more and use his trademark speed.
Burke’s backcourt mate, Tim Hardaway Jr., has also been mentioned as a summer standout. The Pro Basketball Draft Review website watched Hardaway during the Kevin Durant Skills Academy in Chicago and had this to say:
Michigan SG Tim Hardaway looked good today, expect a big year. Should form Big10s best backcourt w/ Trey Burke. Both should be 1st rounders.
— Probasketballdraft (@Probballdraft) June 25, 2012
McCallum also participated in the Chris Paul camp and had a good performance. From the U of D website:
“It was a great opportunity to go down there and learn from some of the best coaches,” said McCallum. “The talent was great and I know that I learned a lot this week.”
It is the second skills academy he has attended so far as the Horizon League Championship MVP participated in Chris Paul’s CP3 Elite Guard Camp from June 8-11.
The skills academy – hosted by Nike – was closed to the public and college coaches as 16 of the top point guards at the collegiate level and 17 of the top high school players were invited.
“The great thing about the camp is the exposure, not just for me, but for Detroit,” said McCallum. “Also, everything that I learned, I can take back to Detroit for my coaches and my teammates.”
While the session was not open to college coaches, NBA scouts were permitted to watch and the media gained access on the final workout of the weekend.
Appling, although he played a lot of point guard last season, seems to be moving towards becoming more of a shooting guard or combo guard. Eamonn Brennan of ESPN thinks that Appling could be a player who makes a major leap forward next season, regardless of the position he’s playing:
Fans of college hoops already know Appling as Tom Izzo’s defensively stalwart, fast-breaking point guard, and for good reason: The sophomore was a key contributor in Michigan State winning a share of the Big Ten title and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. But with the team’s do-everything leader Draymond Green gone, and a batch of younger, less-experienced players rounding out the rotation, Appling has a chance to evolve from a nice complementary piece into one of the Big Ten’s bona fide stars.
These players are obviously all talented. It is great to see they all seem to be putting in the necessary work over the summer to continue to improve.