Burgess' Roundabout Journey to BYU Dream School

Knowledgeable Cougar basketball fans know that one of our basketball recruiting priorities for the coming season is to bring in two talented big men. Highly recruited <b>David Burgess</b> is one of the most attractive LDS prospects in the country.

David has indicated BYU is one of his top finalists. A home visit by BYU head coach Steve Cleveland and his assistant and an official campus visit by David have already taken place.

Most who have been following the Cougars for the past decade also know that David's older brother, Chris, was recruited by BYU. That recruitment experience turned sour when Chris accepted a scholarship from Duke and then-BYU coach Reid did not handle the rejection well. This experience probably led to Chris' ultimate transfer to Utah instead of BYU when he left Duke.

Many wondered if Chris' negative experience many years ago could possibly be an obstacle to David becoming a future Cougar star.

In the past month, another interesting and perhaps compensating development has taken place that may yet help BYU land this coveted recruit. Middle brother (between Chris and David) Josh has enrolled at BYU and is walking on the team this upcoming season. Cougar coaches and fans are hoping this may bode well in David's upcoming decision on a college choice. Unless the brothers don't like each other, and all indications are to the contrary, it seems a very positive indicator for BYU.

Here is more information about Josh Burgess. He's always been a bit overshadowed by his two more talented and highly recruited brothers. At 6-8, Josh does have size and build to be a decent basketball player, but he wasn't blessed with quite the same overall talent.

During his high school years, Josh played but only lettered twice. As a sophomore, he was on the same team with his brother Chris, then a senior, but did not earn a letter on a team that was one of the best in school history at Woodbridge High School.

Growing several more inches, he played and earned a varsity letter as a junior, but still wasn't one of the top scorers or rebounders. As a senior, he came into his own. Unfortunately, this was not a very good team, but his skills continued to improve. He carried a heavy load for that team, scoring 18 points and averaging 10 rebounds a game, along with impressive numbers of steals, blocks, and assists.

Somewhat of a late bloomer on a team that didn't make any noise nationally, Josh was lightly recruited out of high school. Josh always wanted to attend BYU, but he loved basketball too. He decided his best chance to earn significant playing time might be to attend a Division II school.

Choosing BYU-Hawaii, Josh redshirted his first year and then served an LDS mission in the Philippines, intending to return to the Laie campus to play basketball for four straight years. However, he returned from his mission in July 2002 with different priorities and a revised perspective, as many missionaries do.

He returned to find his little brother David (OK, 6-10 and growing, but he used to be little!) was quite a basketball talent and about to start his junior year at Josh's alma mater. He had never been able to watch his talented brother play varsity basketball.

Josh decided he wanted that chance to observe and cheer on David, and he thought it would be great to be able to play in front of his family once again, too. So he started to look for a place where he could play college ball close to home. He really needed a situation where he would be challenged to get back into shape, and would get to play.

He found that opportunity at Irvine Valley Community College. The coach had seen a large turnover from the previous year and had a very strong 7-foot center, but needed a back-up who would work hard. It was a good match of common needs, and Josh became a freshman member of the Lasers.

Despite his three-year break from competition, Josh brought a maturity and work ethic needed to fill the back-up role. He ended up playing in all 30 of their games last year and started in five of them. He wasn't the team MVP, but he was voted the most inspirational team member for the season. His coach said his contribution was far greater than the individual stats indicated, with his best game being a 6 point, 4 rebound, 2 assists effort. Josh decided after the season to follow his longtime dream to play at BYU and earn a roster spot as a walk-on with the Cougars.

Josh came to Provo early in the summer and took a class which provided him the credits needed to move on from a junior college and play at the NCAA Division I level. During the summer he also played summer league ball with and against current BYU and Utah team members, performing well enough that BYU decided they would definitely have room for a quality walk-on like Josh.

Because he has already used his redshirt season, Josh will play this year as a sophomore, with three years of eligibility left.

It will be fun to finally see a Burgess in a BYU Cougar uniform. If David decides to join his brother next year, it would be sweet sight indeed for Cougar fans.

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