Q&A with Colgate Basketball Junior Guard Jordan Burns: Making the Decision to Enter the NBA Draft


Eric Fishbin, Sports Editor

After being the man to bring up the ball for three of the most memorable seasons in recent Colgate history, junior point guard Jordan Burns is set to test NBA waters this summer ahead of his senior campaign. 

Burns had a strong junior year, culminating in First-Team All Patriot League and Patriot League All-Tournament Team honors. It was his third season in a prominent role on the team, but the first with junior guard Nelly Cummings sharing the backcourt. Rounding out the starting five was sophomore guard Tucker Richardson, as well as senior forwards Rapolas Ivanauskas and Will Rayman. 

While Rayman will be automatically entered into draft consideration, Ivanauskas has one more year of eligibility and entered the transfer portal on April 5.

Burns frequently paced the Raiders in scoring, posting 31 double-digit performances (eight of which he tallied over 20 points) in the regular season. But his highlight performance came against Green Bay on Nov. 26. On the road, he hit eight three-pointers and recorded a career-high 40-points (setting the scoring record in the Legends Classic), to lead the Raiders to victory at the Legends Classic Subregional.

He earned the Lou Henson National Player of the Week (which is given to the top mid-major Division I college basketball player) and the Patriot League Player of the Week on Dec. 2 following the dominant outing against Green Bay.

As the Apr. 16 deadline to declare for the 2020 NBA Draft approaches, Burns made the announcement that he would be entering his name on April 3 via Instagram and Twitter. 

Though it might come as a surprise for a junior from the Patriot League to leave early, Burns still has the opportunity to return for his senior season if he chooses to withdraw before June 15 (10 days before the NBA Draft on June 25). 

For now, the NBA Draft Lottery is scheduled to take place on May 19 in Chicago, Ill. In a typical year, the scouting combine is soon to follow. But this year, in the wake of the global Coronavirus pandemic, the NBA’s calendar might be pushed back. As it stands, though, the 2020 NBA Draft Combine is scheduled to run from May 21 to May 24. 

With the NBA’s regular season schedule in a suspended state (like much of the world), and the draft order far from established, there is a possibility that the lottery, draft date and combine are pushed back to later in the summer.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported, on April 6, NBA teams will not be able to view new highlight film from after March 11, meet draft-eligible prospects in-person for workouts or conduct (virtual) interviews for more than four hours total. According to Wojnarowski’s report, those decisions have an indefinite time span. 

The Colgate Maroon-News caught up with Burns to hear about what went into his announcement and what the process of getting NBA scouts’ attention during the global pandemic has been like.

Eric Fishbin: You were a centerpiece of the Colgate Raiders basketball team for three of the most memorable runs in recent history, earning two Patriot League All-Tournament team honors including the MVP of the 2019 Tournament along the way. How do you feel your time at Colgate has prepared you to take a step forward and to the next level?

Jordan Burns: I think that Colgate has prepared me in such a great way. I was able to be a part of some teams with a lot of talented guys who came to work every single day. I had a group of coaches who constantly studied the game and did whatever they could to make us better on a day to day basis not only on the court but in the classroom and community as well. I was blessed to be put in a role where others allowed me to be able to produce at a high level. I also put in a lot of work so I could have success within the role I was given. So overall, I’d say Colgate prepared me for the bigger stage in a major way.

EF: After averaging 15.8 points, 4.5 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game last season—as well as helping the team set a program record for wins (25)—was there a moment when the decision to enter your name to the NBA Draft became the likely one? Was declaring after junior year something you had considered before the season?

JB: Yeah, I definitely considered entering my name in the draft before the season started. It was one of my goals along with many others I had before the season. During the season, I never really thought about it much because I felt I was so locked in on just trying to win games that it didn’t enter my mind. But once the season was over and I had some time to look back on our season, I figured the best step for me at this point in time was to put my name into the draft. 

EF: What has the process of getting looks from NBA scouts been like for you so far? Considering the National Invitational Tournament was canceled, and individual workouts and the draft combine are not likely to be options for a little while, what can you do to show what kind of player you are in the meantime?  

JB: Well, it’s very unfortunate that this is all happening right now in the world. Obviously things have changed, so proving my worth to [an] NBA team is definitely challenging right now, but all I can do is continue to work and hope I’m able to showcase myself before the draft happens. I am doing all I can right now to try and be in the best shape of my life for when that moment presents itself. 

EF: Are there any current players in the NBA whose style of play you admire or try to emulate? Who would you most look forward to playing with or against if given the opportunity?

JB: Yes, of course. Guys like Dame Lillard, Jrue Holiday, Mike Conley, Fred VanVleet, Chris Paul, Patrick Beverley, Bryn Forbes and the list goes on. These are guys that have helped me shape myself just from watching how they go about themselves, on and off the court. I think someone I look forward to playing with would have to be LeBron because he’s the goat. And someone I look forward to playing against is probably Chris Paul. I feel that he is the greatest point guard ever in terms of his numbers; he’s always been someone I’ve looked up to since I started playing basketball. 

EF: What kind of support from your teammates and coaches have you had up to this point? If you end up returning to school, are there still more goals you would hope to accomplish?

JB: My team and coaches have continued to support me throughout this process. We are a family and we treat each other as such. If I was to return to school, I would have some goals I’d like to accomplish. The main one would obviously be getting back to the NCAA Tournament, but I also have some personal goals as well.

EF: What would you say to an NBA team or scout doubting your ability to compete at the next level?

JB: I wouldn’t say anything. I let my work do the talking for me; it would just give me more motivation to keep pushing and to prove myself right even more. I truly believe that I am an NBA-level player and I don’t want any handouts. I’m ready to prove myself when the time comes.