Most discussions of Fred Hoiberg’s roster start with the junior college duo of Cam Mack and Jervay Green, and with good reason. Hoiberg has also often mentioned Thorir Thorbjarnarson as the only player on the roster who played for the Huskers last season.
However, Thorbjarnarson isn’t the only one returning from last year, and there’s another dynamic guard who will play a big role in that backcourt: Dachon Burke.
Burke is a 6-foot-4, 180-pound guard originally from Orange, New Jersey, who redshirted last season after transferring in from Robert Morris, where he spent two years.
Burke struggled a bit as a freshman, though he did start 16 games. As a sophomore, however, he had a breakout campaign, leading the Colonials in scoring. He averaged 17.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.1 steals in 32.6 minutes per game. He also only shot 33.8 percent from 3 and 62.8 percent from the free-throw line and he turned the ball over 2.7 times per game as he carried a 28.7 usage rate on a team that went 16-17.
Burke played a big role on the scout team last season and was one of the few players who took part in the team’s spring workouts after Hoiberg’s staff arrived. Assistant coach Matt Abdelmassih was familiar with Burke before getting to Lincoln as well after recruiting him previously.
“I’m impressed with Dachon,” Hoiberg said at the Big Red Blitz stop in Fremont. “He’s a heck of a competitor. I can tell that just in the short amount of time I’ve gotten to know him. He’s a player that is a downhill guard that can get into the paint and make plays. We worked a lot on footwork in his shot in the couple weeks we had before he went home for a couple weeks before we start this summer session. I like him. I think he’s got a chance to have a big role on next year’s team.”
To get a better idea of what Burke can bring to the table and how he might fit in, I did a deep-dive into his Synergy Sports Technology numbers from his sophomore season.
Before getting to the numbers, I’ll put this disclaimer here: it looks like Burke had to play a big role on a bad team (he had one teammate shoot over 44 percent from the field, and that guy averaged 3.6 points per game). That could certainly affect his efficiency in a negative way (primarily with turnovers). However, after seeing him in action in a practice and a workout, I think his jump shot certainly needs some work (which is backed up by the low percentages), but that’s one of Hoiberg’s specialties.
Synergy tracked 616 possessions for Burke as a sophomore and he converted them into 558 points, which averages out to 0.906 points per possession (PPP), classified as “good” by Synergy and in the 57th percentile.
Hoiberg loves to run, and that’s something Burke can certainly do. Transition was his second-most common play type as he used 131 possessions in the open court and scored 149 points (1.137 PPP, 66th percentile, “very good”). He shot 59.6% on the break, turned the ball over 15.3 percent of the time (20 in total) and drew a shooting foul 16.8 percent of the time (22 trips).
Burke was solid leading the break himself. On 81 possessions, he scored 77 points (0.951 PPP, 57th percentile, “good”), shooting 25-of-49 (51%) with 13 shooting fouls but turning the ball over 18 times. He was even better out on the wing, though he didn’t get to do it as much for Robert Morris. On 36 possessions he scored 50 points (1.389 PPP, “excellent”), shooting 20-of-31 (64.5%) with six shooting fouls and just two turnovers. He should get many more chances to run out on the wing with Mack or Green pushing the ball up the floor.
Burke wasn’t quite as good in the halfcourt. On 485 possessions, he scored 409 points (0.843 PPP, 46th percentile, “average”). He only shot 41.9% from the field in the halfcourt, down from 45.9 percent overall.
Burke was used primarily as on offensive initiator for the Colonials and they ran a ton of pick-and-rolls. Burke used almost three times as many possessions as the Pick-and-Roll Ball-Handler between his individual scoring and his passes. His pick-and-rolls produced 310 points on 362 possessions (0.856 PPP, 50th percentile, “average”).
Burke’s passing dragged his total down, however, and it’s hard to know how much of that was on him versus having teammates who simply couldn’t make shots. Of his 362 pick-and-rolls, 117 of them ended in passes which produced 106 points (0.906 PPP, 38th percentile, “average”). Of those passes, 83 went to spot-up shooters and they converted them into 81 points (0.976 PPP, 60th percentile, “good”). Those shooters only converted 24 of those 70 shots (34.3%) as Robert Morris was 268th in the country in 3-point percentage that season. Now imagine what it would look like if he had guys like Matej Kavas and Jervay Green spacing the floor.
He didn’t often hit the roll man, however, as only 27 of his passes went there and those passes only produced 22 points (0.815 PPP, 26th percentile, “average”). He roll man shot 9-of-22 on those passes. Robert Morris didn’t have much size, however, so it’s hard to tell how much of that was on Burke’s limitations as opposed to a lack of a viable roll man.
Burke was more dynamic when he looked to score himself. On 245 possessions he scored 204 points (0.833 PPP, 66th percentile, “very good”). He shot 83-of-189 (43.9%) with a 12.7% turnover rate and he drew a shooting foul on 9% of those possessions.
If Burke wasn’t running a pick-and-roll, he was probably spotting up. He used 107 Spot-Up possessions as a sophomore and scored 97 points (0.907 PPP, 49th percentile, “average”). He shot 32-of-93 from the field with six turnovers and seven shooting fouls.
Burke really didn’t show much of an in-between game — he shot 2-of-11 on pull-up jumpers and 1-of-8 on runners in spot-up situations. He’s pretty good at the rim and decent on catch-and-shoot looks, though. On 24 spot-up possessions that ended at the rim, he shot 9-of-18 with six shooting fouls (26 points, 1.083 PPP, 59th percentile, “good”). On no-dribble jumpers, he scored 63 points on 57 possessions (1.105 PPP, 58th percentile, “good”). He shot 20-of-56 (35.7 percent) which isn’t great, but it’s good enough when those shots are worth three points.
His sample size on everything else was pretty small. Next on the list is Put-Backs. Burke was a pretty decent offensive rebounder for a guard but his efficiency in terms of converting the into points wasn’t great. On 37 possessions he scored 34 points (0.919 PPP, 24th percentile, “below average”). He shot 12-of-24 with six turnovers and six shooting fouls. He wasn’t good running off screens either, scoring 19 points on 25 possessions (0.76 PPP, 31st percentile, “average”) while shooting 7-of-21.
In a slight surprise considering his role, Burke only used 23 Isolation possessions. They didn’t go well. He only scored 14 points (0.609 PPP, 16th percentile, “below average”). Super small sample size here, but he was actually effective creating for his teammates (eight points on six possessions), though he turned it over twice. On 17 scoring possessions, he recorded just six points, shooting 3-of-12 with five turnovers. His 0.353 PPP was in the fourth percentile (obviously “poor”).
Burke was hardly ever used in Hand-Off or Cut situations, which was unfortunate. On 21 possessions, he scored 26 points, shooting 10-of-15 with three turnovers and two shooting fouls.
In terms of shot distribution, 167 of Burke’s shots were jumpers, and he made 59 of them (35.3%). Though he didn’t shoot a great percentage, the fact that most of his shots were from 3 resulted in a PPP of 0.952 (56th percentile, “good”). He shot 40-of-113 (35.4%) from 3, 10-of-26 (38.5%) from 17 feet out to the 3-point line and 9-of-28 (35.2%) and jumpers inside of 17 feet.
On 71 no-dribble jump shot possessions, Burke scored 75 points (1.056 PPP, 57th percentile, “good”), shooting 25-of-71 (35.2%). Burke was classified as “guarded” on 51 of those shots. He shot 16-of-51 (31.4%) on them. On his unguarded looks, he shot 9-of-20, all from 3.
On off-the-dribble jumpers, Burke shot 31-of-88 (35.2%). Since a lot of those were 3-pointers, he scored 74 points which equals a PPP of 0.841 (60th percentile, “good”). That’s an encouraging sign for his shooting potential, though the free-throw percentage is a bit worrisome as it is often an indicator of true shooting talent.
Burke took almost as many shots at the rim as he took jump shots. He shot 86-of-161 (43.5%) and new three shooting fouls, scoring 174 points for a 1.081 PPP (44th percentile, “average”). He shot 7-of-35 on runners (ninth percentile, “poor”).
Burke obviously has a lot of areas in which he needs to show improvement, but he also showed off a lot of skills at Robert Morris. He’s a capable pick-and-roll player, he can knock down an open shot and he’s very good in the open floor. Hoiberg wants to push the pace, space the floor and run a lot of pick-and-rolls. It’s not hard to see why Hoiberg is excited about having Burke in his program. None of this factors in Burke’s defense as well, and that might be his greatest skill; he’s tough and relentless and doesn’t back down from any match-up.
It will be fascinating to see how Burke’s numbers are impacted by a jump in competition, improved teammates around him and a year off to work on his game. The way things look on paper, though, the Huskers should have a dynamic backcourt for the next two years with Burke, Green and Mack.
“The thing I’m excited about is you’ve got three guys who you can put the ball in their hands and they can all make plays,” Hoiberg said. “It’s all about now talking about going out and making simple plays. We’ve got a group that can do that. We don’t have to go out and hit a home run every time you make a play. That’s something that our teams have always done. We’ve been a high assist team and low-turnover team and that’s something that we’re going to stress every day with our team.”
Jacob Padilla has been writing for Hail Varsity since 2015. He covers football, volleyball men’s basketball and prep sports. He also co-hosts the Nebraska Preps Postgame and Nebraska Shootaround podcasts for the Hurrdat Media and Hail Varsity podcast networks. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.