Burgess likes Louisville, Coach Pitino
Like most American teenagers, 6'10 David Burgess of Irvine,CA, preferred the menu at McDonald's over the native Greek cuisine during his trip to Thessaloniki earlier this month for the 2003 FIBA Men's Junior World Championships.
Burgess, the only high school player on the USA roster for the Junior World Championships, said he benefited greatly from the experience of playing overseas against older, more experienced players.
Burgess lists Cards second
"It was truly a once in a lifetime experience and I learned a lot," Burgess told InsideTheVille.com.
Playing against bigger, more experienced players while in Greece presented a challenge to the 240 pound Burgess.
"Yeah it was," Burgess responded to the challenging nature of his first taste of international competition. Burgess said he faced several 7+ footers who weighted considerably more than did he.
Burgess, who skipped the adidas ABCD Camp to play in Greece with the USA team, enjoyed playing for Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent. Kent and the Ducks are recruiting Burgess heavily and the California native lists Oregon among his top five schools.
"I got to know him as a person better," Burgess said of the time spent with Kent.
Burgess said most of the focus for Kent though was on coaching and teaching the players on the junior world squad.
"He really only talked to me about Oregon on the last day of the trip," Burgess said.
Burgess mentioned several important factors when making his decision but distance from home was not one of them.
"Coaching style...how I fit into a program and what they do is probably the most important factor for me," Burgess said. "Playing time is also important....for what player isn't it?...but I realize your freshman year is a learning experience."
Burgess also said the schools campus was important but not in the sense that most would think.
"I look at how basketball is viewed on the campus and the support the fans give to the program," Burgess explained of his definition of a healthy campus life and attitude toward hoops.
Burgess said the last time Coach Pitino called, he spoke with his father, Ken, during the week of the adidas ABCD Camp. ITV believes, but can not confirm, that Louisville Assistant Kevin Willard flew to Greece to check up on Burgess during the Junior World Championships. Burgess could not provide confirmation of Willard's trip to Greece either.
In all of our discussions with prospects over the months, the common theme among most top flight prospects who list Louisville highly is Coach Pitino. His experience and track record always seem to be the first and most significant reason given by players in response to where their interest in the Cardinal program stems.
"The biggest reason is Coach Pitino," Burgess responded to the question. Burgess explained that during Pitino's recruitment of his older brother, Chris, a strong relationship between the Louisville coach and the Burgess family developed and is one of the primary reasons the Cards currently sit second behind only UCLA.
"The first thing he told me on his visit last spring was that the NBA looks first at defensive rebounds per minute and shots challenged second when drafting big men," Burgess said. "Which surprised me."
Burgess mentioned that his goal is to one day reach the highest level in basketball and his dream is to play in the National Basketball Association. Burgess also noted that Pitino, because of his past experience coaching and drafting players into the league, was one of the top college coaches he could think of to help make his dreams a reality.
Another important issue for Burgess is his faith. David, a Morman, hasn't decided whether or not he'll take a two year mission when he turns 19, knows the answer to that question will factor into his decision.
"My dad said to plan on it [taking a mission] but to realize you can serve your faith in other ways," Burgess explained of his father's advice on the subject.
David's brother, Chris, did not take a mission, instead playing for Duke before transferring to Utah. Burgess said his father has explained that other Morman athletes, like former 49er Steve Young, also didn't take missions but served their faith by using their talents on the field.
Burgess said Coach Pitino has been upfront about his position on the mission issue and has indicated to the family that he can't take David if the 6'10 center decides to pursue his mission because of the shortage of frontcourt players in the Cardinals stable.
Fully aware of Coach Pitino's stance on the issue, Burgess reiterated the Cardinals were still high on his list of college suiters, perhaps indicating he's leaning toward not pursuing a mission next year.
Burgess will begin setting up official visits next month and intends to visit each of the five schools on his list this fall before making his collegiate decision.