May 17, 2013 at 4:56 pm

John Niyo

Michigan's Trey Burke ready for NBA with help from trusted allies

Trey Burke said he knows some NBA teams will quiz him about his choice of agent. In fact, he said the Pacers already had. (John T. Greilick/Detroit News)

Chicago -- Why are manhole covers round? And why are you putting so much trust in your inner circle?

Those are the kind of questions you get asked once you've answered most of the pertinent ones, as Trey Burke did last season in leading Michigan to the national championship game.

The consensus national player of the year announced he was turning pro last month, and last week the point guard announced he was bypassing more high-profile sports agents to sign with his father, Benji Burke, a newly licensed agent, and his cousin, Alonzo Shavers, who has a relatively small list of NFL clients.

And while that move might have raised a few eyebrows, in Burke's eyes it's "tough to really explain" why it was actually a pretty easy decision for him. Negotiating rookie contracts in today's NBA isn't exactly rocket science, Shavers knows how the business works — even though Burke will be his first hoops client — and Burke's family isn't closing the door on the possibility of partnering with a more established agency later on.

"I just felt like if we were to keep it in the family I wouldn't be missing out on a lot of opportunities that I would've had if I was to go with a big-time agency," Burke said Thursday at the NBA draft combine in Chicago. "There's always going to be risks either way you go. But I just felt like that's the direction I should go, working out at home with the guy who's been getting me better for the last five years. Choosing my dad and my cousin as agents, those are two guys that I can trust more than anyone."

Burke said he knows some NBA teams will quiz him about that choice. In fact, he said the Pacers already had.

But he joked he had a far easier time answering that than he did the interview question made famous by Microsoft years ago.

Why are manhole covers round? Well, because manholes are round, for one thing. But there are several other reasons a civil engineer could give you, even if most NBA point guards — Burke included — probably can't.

"I said, 'So people can get out of 'em?'" Burke shrugged. "I don't know. I had no clue. They asked me that and I didn't know why. But they asked me."

Teams want 'explosion'

Ask him where he'll be playing basketball in the fall and you'll get a similar answer. But there's a reason Burke was among the players opting not work out here at the combine. He'll undergo all the official testing — he measured 6-foot-1 with a 6-5 wingspan Thursday, he said — but there aren't all that many questions about his game.

Burke says teams want to see more "explosion" from him at the offensive end, and more intensity at the defensive end. But with Oklahoma's Marcus Smart staying in school, Burke is widely viewed as the top point guard in this year's draft.

He already interviewed with Indiana, Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia and New Orleans. And he had another half-dozen interviews scheduled later Thursday, with more to follow today as the combine wraps up.

Burke said he was surprised he hadn't heard from the Pistons — "I don't think they're one of the teams that's going to bring me in for an interview," he said — but figured that might not mean anything.

"Talking to my father, he said some teams do that just to not let other teams know that they are interested," Burke said.

And really, there's a good chance he won't even be on the board by the time the Pistons pick, assuming they don't hit the lottery and move up in the draft order with one of the top three picks. Orlando, New Orleans and Sacramento are possible destinations for Burke, who says he'll start scheduling private workouts with teams after Tuesday's draft lottery.

Busy summer ahead

In the meantime, he'll keep preparing for what others — including NBA rookies Jared Sullinger and Draymond Green (Michigan State) — have warned him is "going to be the busiest summer of your life." Burke is in the gym every day at 9 a.m. and spends most of his day there, from high-intensity ball-handling drills to shooting drills to plyometric exercises and so on.

"In college, in the offseason you'd work out every day, but you could still relax," he said. "You can't really do that now."

Well, that's not entirely true. Burke admits he has found time to do a little shopping. At the auto dealership. He took a BMW 750 for a spin, "and a Porsche as well."

"But I haven't bought anything yet," he said, adding he won't until the draft.

When he does, though, "You'll see," he laughed. "You guys will know."

john.niyo@detroitnews.com

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