Fifth-year prep player lands on Golden Eagles

Men's basketball head coach Tom Crean always preaches the advantages of a blue collar work ethic. If you out-work and out-hustle the competition, good things will happen.

The next time Crean needs to remind his players of this truth or provide an example to illustrate his point, he need look no further than the job he and his coaching staff did recruiting Dwight Burke, a 6-foot-8 power forward at St. Benedict's Preparatory School in Newark, N.J.

Burke, considered the 54th best fifth-year player in the country by Hoop Scoop Online, originally signed a letter of intent to play for Bill Herrion at East Carolina.

After Herrion was dismissed on Feb. 22, Burke asked for, and was granted, his release from the Pirates. Crean and assistant coach Jason Rabedeaux made the most of the opportunity and convinced Burke to accept a scholarship to Marquette.

"The thing that really stood out about Marquette was the day I got my release was a Thursday afternoon, and the next day, Friday afternoon, Marquette was there in the gym watching me work out," Burke said.

"They had seen me work out before when it was pending that I was going to get my release … Other schools, you know, they waited around, and after I got my release they waited to see if they were going to recruit me. But the thing about Marquette was they were the first ones there the next day. As a matter of fact, the night I got my release coach Rabedeaux from Marquette called me and told me they were coming the next day."

With the Gray Bees, Burke shared minutes and similar statistics with Frank Tchuisi, who signed with Big East rival Villanova.

Both averaged about nine points and eight rebounds per game. Burke averaged 3.5 blocks per game while Tchuisi averaged five for a squad that finished 26-1 and won the New Jersey prep title.

"Dwight's strong points would be, obviously, being a team player, not complaining all the time," said Eddie Lau, a friend of Burke's who steered him to St. Benedict's Prep. "He can rebound (and he will be) throwin' his big body around."

Burke grew up in Brooklyn, and after spending two years on the basketball team at Christiana High in Delaware he returned to his hometown and played at Rice High School where he averaged 7.6 points and 6.2 rebounds off the bench.

Part of the appeal of Marquette for Burke is its inner-city location.

"The campus is very nice and being from the city, being from New York and Brooklyn I (like that)," Burke said. "After getting my waiver from East Carolina I didn't really want to be in a rural-type area anymore. I mean Milwaukee kind of impressed me because I thought it would be a lot more boring.

"But when I got up there, Milwaukee, the city, impressed me."

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on April 28 2005.