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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended December 01, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 30Nov00

By Kent Larsen

Burgess Keeps Trying To Start His College Career

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- When he chosed Duke over BYU, then BYU coach Roger Reid told him he was letting down the Prophet, the Quorum of the Twelve, and all 10 million members of the LDS Church. Since then Chris Burgess has tried to keep from letting down fans at Duke, and now at the University of Utah as teammates in both places have moved on to the NBA. So far, however, he has continued to disappoint.

The 6' 10" Burgess, son of onetime BYU player Ken Burgess, was a star player at Irvine Woodbridge High School in Orange County, California, where as a senior in 1996-97 he was considered one of the top high school players in the nation. Ken Burgess claims that his son could have gone straight to the NBA.

After choosing Duke, Burgess played in a high school all-star game against Elton Brand, who told him "When we get to Duke, I'll play forward and you play center." But at Duke, Burgess couldn't make the grade. Brand flourished, won the Wooden Award and was drafted into the NBA after two years. But Burgess languished, getting little playing time after starting poorly, and falling out of favor with Duke fans by scoring just 7 points in six games against Duke's archrival, the North Carolina Tar Heels.

At the end of two years, as Brand moved on to the NBA, Burgess transferred to Utah, after seeing the school's recent success and hearing many times that Utah's coach Rick Majerus was the best "big man" coach in college basketball. "We wanted to fix his career," Ken Burgess said. "We asked who the best big-man coach was. One name kept coming up over and over, [Utah Coach] Rick Majerus." But after the transfer, Burgess developed a bulging disk, which sidelined him for the season.

Now, Burgess is bent on filling his potential. He spent the summer at boot camp, working on strengthening his back and cut his weight to 236, as Majerus required. But he still looks rusty to Majerus. In Utah's opener against Idaho State, he was only 2 for 6, scoring 4 points and getting just 2 rebounds. After the game, Majerus worried that Burgess might still be injured. "You can see the robotic quality to his gait," Majerus said. "I admire him because he's trying very hard in what looks like to me to be a lot of pain."

But in the end, what ails Burgess may not even be physical. Instead, he may simply be the victim of too high expectations, "The greatest disservice we do is put guys on pedestals early in life," Majerus said. "I tell everyone, nobody heard of Van Horn and Doleac and Miller out of high school. They were all first-round [NBA] picks. Only a handful of players never have a ceiling to their game. Even Wilt Chamberlain couldn't shoot free throws."


Sprucing Up
Los Angeles Times 29Nov00 S2
By Chirs Foster: Times Staff Writer
His Career at Duke Failed to Take Root, So Now Burgess Is Trying to Resurrect NBA Dreams at Utah, a Place Where Tall Timbers Grow


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