UM’s Albrecht on college hoops future: ‘Who knows?’

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Spike Albrecht says he “has an itch to get back out there,” but hasn’t made any decisions on whether he will continue his basketball career next season.

The heart and soul of Michigan basketball the last three-plus years, Albrecht had to step away last month because the pain in his hips was becoming too much to handle.

At the time of his news conference, he expressed little interest in ever playing basketball again, saying he didn’t want to do long-term damage to his health. A Michigan press release carried the headline, “Spike Albrecht Announces End of Career for Wolverines.”

Now, amid a report in a Chicago paper last month that he’s having a change of heart, Albrecht set the record straight in an interview with The Detroit News on Tuesday.

“I really don’t know what I’m thinking about for next year. Right now, I’m not where I need to be to play Division I basketball,” Albrecht said in his first interview since announcing the end of his season. “If I keep getting better and feeling better, who knows? I’d have to have a sitdown and reevaluate with the doctors, Coach (John) Beilein.

“As of right now, I’m just focusing on finishing up with school and doing what I can with the team.”

Albrecht, 23, will graduate from Michigan in May with a degree in general studies, and he already has at least one job offer, Beilein happily announced last month, though it’s unclear if it’s in the basketball field.

After having two hip surgeries this spring, Albrecht played in eight games for Michigan before deciding he wasn’t getting any better. In the SMU game Dec. 8, he told coaches he couldn’t play in the second half. Later that week, he sat down with Beilein and decided it was best for himself and the team to pull the plug.

Albrecht, when he’s not continuing a rigorous rehab schedule, remains a major part of the team, watching film, helping out in practice and serving as a pseudo member of the coaching staff on the bench during game days.

But because Albrecht played in fewer than 30 percent of the games this season, he does have an extra year of eligibility. At his emotional news conference last month, he made no mention of wanting to play basketball anymore.

It doesn’t seem so cut and dry anymore.

He’s doubtful to return at all this season, because playing in even one more game would put him over the 30-percent threshold and, thus, burn his extra year of eligibility. While he hasn’t made a decision on his future, he probably at least wants the option.

Doctors have told him he’ll be good to go in six months, his father, Chuck Albrecht, told The News last month. He was told something similar following his hip surgeries, too, and that never really worked out, so there is skepticism. And, perhaps, that’s why Albrecht isn’t ready to commit to any sort of comeback.

“If my body doesn’t cooperate, it doesn’t cooperate,” Albrecht said. “I can’t really say either way, whether or not I want to come back or not. It all depends on my body. That’s the main thing I’ve gotta focus on is rehab, to see if I can back to that level next year.”

If Albrecht, the 5-foot-11 guard from Indiana, does decide to play next season, it’d take some shuffling to open up a roster spot at Michigan, which already is over on scholarships.

Albrecht could also transfer to another Division I school.

While Albrecht said he isn’t sure what the future holds, he made clear what his preference would be if he decides to keep playing. Asked if he’d want his career to continue at Michigan, he said, “Oh, yeah, absolutely,” and asked if he has any interest in transferring, he said, “No, not at all.”