NU Basketball Practice, 07.02.2018

Nebraska's Dachon Burke calls for the ball while running through a play at a workout at Hendricks Training Complex in July 2018.

Put yourself in Dachon Burke's shoes.

The New Jersey native took a leap and transferred to Nebraska after starring for two seasons at Robert Morris. He put on a show in the Red-White scrimmage, teasing Husker fans with his potential before retreating to the bench for his NCAA-mandated redshirt year.

He watched Nebraska rise into the top 25, then fall to the depths of the Big Ten. And less than one year after he decided he would come to Lincoln, he saw the coach who recruited him, Tim Miles, get fired before suiting up once for a game.

Then, with Nebraska yet to announce Fred Hoiberg as its new head coach, Burke dealt with what he described as a couple of "tragedies" in his personal life back home.

No, it hasn't been an easy ride for the 6-foot-4 guard. But with a new coaching staff and a refreshed perspective after a year of watching, Burke is ready to step into what looks like will be a critical role for Hoiberg's first Nebraska team.

"Last year, I felt like it was special having the opportunity to go against guys like Isaiah Roby, Isaac Copeland, Glynn Watson and James Palmer. You're talking four pros every day in practice," Burke said. "You don't get there everywhere around the world. So it was a good experience. This year I'm looking to fill in the shoes, and I'm ready to play and get some wins."

Burke was one of a handful of Huskers to take to social media after Nebraska's final game, a loss at TCU in the NIT in March, in support of Miles staying on as head coach. For a man not all that active on Twitter, Burke's support of Miles led some to wonder if he had a future in Lincoln.

"I didn't know who was coming in," Burke said. "I was just scared, you know? For my future. But Hoiberg coming in, he's a cool, laid-back guy. I like him so far. And I want to continue to grow a relationship with him."

Burke did say "every door was open" for his future after Miles left. But a fortuitous connection helped convince him to stay with Nebraska.

After he announced he was transferring from Robert Morris, Burke was quickly contacted by NU assistant Matt Abdelmassih, who was with St. John's at the time.

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While it didn't work out with the Red Storm, Abdelmassih's number stayed in Burke's phone. And while Burke was in limbo this spring, that number popped up again.

"I'm like, 'Why's he calling me?'" Burke said. "So I answer, and he's like, 'Yeah, I'm at Nebraska now.' He said, 'Me and Hoiberg were at Iowa State with each other. And we're coming in looking to change it around.'

"So I'm like, 'OK, let's get to work.'"

The work so far has been a little limited. Thanks to graduations, transfers, injuries and Roby preparing for NBA tryouts, Nebraska currently has three healthy scholarship players available for workouts — Burke, Thorir Thorbjarnarson and Brady Heiman. 

That's nothing new for Burke, who saw many of his teammates at Robert Morris leave after his freshman season. But combined with the coaching staff leaving, the usual roster turnover left Burke wondering who would be with him once spring workouts started.

"I feel like it's a business when coaches leave, or when players want to leave to better themselves," Burke said. "But this year it's a little different because I didn't expect it. I thought everybody was going to stay when the year was over with."

So Burke, a junior, has had a captive audience while trying to improve his leadership skills.

"That's one thing Hoiberg said I've got to do a better job at in the workouts," Burke said. "Just staying vocal is something I've got to get better at and get used to, because I'm kind of laid-back, quiet, chill. So I've got to step out of those shoes if I want success individually and as a team here at Nebraska."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or cbasnett@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.


Husker basketball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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