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Colgate's Burns talks racial injustices, optimism and basketball

How Jordan Burns juggles decision to return to Colgate for senior year amid racial unrest.

Posted: Jun 14, 2020 12:08 AM
Updated: Jun 14, 2020 12:11 AM

San Antonio, TX - Over the last few months, Colgate University star point guard Jordan Burns, has been in one of the most uncertain yet exciting times in his life. Between the coronavirus pandemic and declaring for the NBA draft. But for him, what is for certain is that the recent death of George Floyd and racial injustices against African Americans puts the foreseeable future into perspective.

George Floyd, Jordan Burns. Two Texas natives.

“I think this one hit home for a lot of people,” said Burns. “I think people are just sick of seeing police brutality and just racism continue to run rampant just within our society. I think people that don't acknowledge it continue to I think make things worse.”

Burns says these acts of racial injustice and the current racial unrest inspire him to encourage those of the younger generation.

“I'm trying to stay positive. I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do for the youth and try to make them realize that they can do what they want to do, still, even through racism they can persevere through all types of adversity because we are strong as black people in America. We’re strong to have to live here for the almost 500 years and endured what we’ve had to endure in our history. We’re strong individuals and we can make a lot happen.”

He says that his coaches and teammates have opened the floor to have conversations about racial issues.

“Every one of my Colgate teammates and coaches, we've had dialogue about it and really they just open the floor for minority students, specifically our black students on our team to just have dialogue with everybody on a Zoom call and talk about experiences and how to make things better for us especially on our campus where the white population is very high. Just trying to figure out ways we can make it better for each other I think,” said Burns.

In the current moment, Burns was contemplating a return to Colgate for his senior year or to continue on in the NBA draft process. This month, the NCAA announced that its deadline for players to withdrawal from the NBA draft and maintain college eligibility has been extended to August 3 or 10 days after the draft combine. Burns took advantage of it.

Just 48 hours after our interview, he released a statement on social media stating that he is returning for his senior season. After a tough loss to Boston University in the Patriot League conference final in March, Burns says that the feeling of leaving Colgate with ‘unfinished business’ makes him even more ready for another shot at a return to the national tournament.

“I'd be lying if I told you no. I'm a competitor at heart. I love to win. I haven't even been able to watch that game. I probably never will in my life. I wouldn't just choose to go back to school just because of that but that definitely is a big factor in trying to get me back on that floor for sure,” said Burns.

Burns will return as the Raiders leading scorer and arguably the best player in the Patriot League. But his optimism outshines his game. 

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