Because Chris Burgess was such a polarizing figure, and because Jabari Parker was such a hot recruit, I called Burgess last week in the United Arab Emirates, where plays professionally.
Burgess was recruited by every major school in the country out of high school, but ended up at Duke, before transferring to Utah. As an LDS prep star, he admitted there is some pressure to attend BYU.
Asked if people “expect” LDS athletes to go to BYU, he said, “Unfortunately some fans will assume they will go to BYU naturally, but that’s unfair. Look how much (Heisman candidate) Manti Teo has done for the LDS Church at Notre Dame.”
Burgess, who lives in Bountiful in the off-season, went on to say and “BYU fans will be bummed out if he doesn’t go, but I do think they’ll cheer for him. How many people at BYU cheer for Notre Dame and Manti Teo to win the BCS? I’ll cheer for him and I’m a Duke guy.”
Burgess said he was “humbled a lot at Duke, guys were the same age as me and with Elton Brand, I was getting worked in practice. That helped me along the way.”
He added that “if I didn’t have my faith – I’ve never really talked about that – but I really had a lot to fall back on besides basketball and I’ve stayed with it. They’re going to have to kick me off the floor.”
Burgess said his future wife and his LDS bishop at the U. were instrumental in helping him through an injury-laden college career and continue as a professional player.