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Jeff Eisenberg

Now that Burks is back, can Colorado make the NCAA tourney?

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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It may be years before new Colorado coach Tad Boyle lands a more important recruit than the one he secured Wednesday night.

Reigning Big 12 freshman of the year Alec Burks, who said he would consider leaving Colorado if assistant Steve McClain wasn't hired as Jeff Bzdelik's replacement, told the school's web site he will return next year. Boyle met with Burks on campus and flew to Missouri to chat with his family, selling them on an up-tempo system and on the fact that sitting out a full year to transfer didn't make sense for a kid with NBA aspirations.

"My mom said the worst thing I could have done was act out of frustration," Burks said. "When I said all that, I was just mad that coach McClain didn't get it. I was always pretty close to him, but I know I'm going to get close to coach Boyle, too."

The return of Burks gives Colorado a chance to ascend in the Big 12 standings next season and perhaps even compete for its first NCAA tournament berth since 2003. The Buffs went 15-16 overall last year and 6-10 in the conference, but they return a solid nucleus highlighted by high-scoring guards Burks and Cory Higgins.

Although Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Texas and Missouri should all finish ahead of Colorado next season, uncertainty in the rest of the conference should give the Buffs a chance to compete for one of the Big 12's final bids. Oklahoma and Iowa State are in shambles after disastrous offseasons, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State sustained some significant losses and Nebraska and Texas Tech likely remain beatable.

Chief among Burks' offseason goals is to put on 10 to 15 pounds of muscle to make himself a better player as a sophomore and put himself in a better position to enter the NBA Draft this time next year.

"I want to get stronger, faster and more explosive," he said. "I'm still very young; I know I can put on some more weight."

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