After gauging the field and practicing with some of the country’s top talent, Tyler Burton reflected on declaring for the NBA draft, what ultimately made him decide to return to Richmond and what’s in store for the Spiders next season.
THE COLLEGIAN: On April 6, two months ago, you announced that you were declaring for the NBA draft. On June 1, you announced you are going to return to Richmond for another year. What went into that decision?
TYLER BURTON: I just wanted to do what kind of felt right in my heart and in my head. There was potential to go in the draft this year. There was also potential that we’d be really good if I came back to Richmond, so just going with what I love and following my heart. I love the University of Richmond through and through, so I decided to come back for one more year and just have some fun and go out there and play with my teammates again.
C: What was it like playing with some top-level talent in the country during the draft declaration process?
TB: It was really cool to play against some of the top guys you see on T.V. or you hear about just ‘cause it’s always a good challenge. You like to challenge yourself and get outside of your comfort zone. You can play against the best guys in your grade, the best guys in the country, the best guys on the planet, really, on a daily basis. And it’s really really cool just to go against them every day and kind of gauge where you’re at. Sometimes you’re better than them, sometimes you’re not as good as them, but it’s all a great learning experience.
C: So you’re returning to a program that is coming off a season where you guys won an Atlantic 10 championship and won a game in the NCAA tournament. You come back to a squad that looks a little different because of older seniors leaving and now some new transfer guys coming in. So what’s the mindset for this coming season? How do you see the team coming together with some new faces in the program?
TB: Yeah, I think Coach [Chris] Mooney did a great job of bringing in a class that I’m really confident in. I think that we have potential to really stretch the floor, run the floor and really be the dark horses of the A-10 this year. Last year, there was a really high expectation, and at times it seemed like we weren’t gonna live up to it. But this year, I don’t think there is as much as an expectation from the outside, so it’s even better that we can all come together within and kind of just make noise our own way — the way we know how to do it.
C: On April 31, Andre Gustavson decided to come back for a fifth season. On April 15, Matt Grace decided to do the same. What does it mean to you, now that you’ve made the decision to come back for your senior year, to have those guys coming back after you three played a large role in the program’s A-10 and NCAA tournament run last year?
TB: Yeah, it was a huge part. I mean, it just goes to show you, all those guys came back last year, and these guys are coming back this year. It just goes to show you what Coach Mooney does for us and how we feel about the program and the school. But, I mean, I love Goose [Andre Gustavson], I love Matthew [Grace], through and through. Those guys are my brothers. I mean, whenever my wedding is, those guys will be there. These are best friends for my life. And them coming back, it just makes me want to pour that much more into the season.
Last year, we had Jacob [Gilyard], Grant [Golden], Nick [Sherod], Nate [Cayo], Sullivan [Kulju] and Jordan [Gaitley] and I wanted to pour into the program, give it my all for them. And I’m gonna do the same for Matt [Grace] and Goose and Crab [Connor Crabtree], and everybody who wanted to come back.
C: You put your name in the draft for a period of time this year. Maybe it’s too early to say, but do you see yourself doing that again next summer or declaring again sometime in the future?
TB: Yeah, absolutely. I mean the NBA is the end goal. NBA’s the dream. So, I’m not gonna stop chasing that. So yeah, definitely at some point in this lifetime, once again, I will be trying to get into the NBA. Yeah, that’s my goal, that’s my dream.
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