By Justin Whitaker
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana All-Star and former Avon standout Austin Burgett is halfway through his freshman year at Notre Dame.
The 6-foot-9 forward has fit right into South Bend.
“So far, I’ve really enjoyed it and the whole atmosphere with school and basketball,” Burgett said. “Overall, it’s been a good fit and I really fit in, I feel like.”
While the game is still played with a leather orange ball, basketball has changed in college.
“It’s a lot tougher to say the least,” Burgett said. “In high school, you could take a day off and you can never take a day off for college. You’re always going at it, always getting better and the competition is a lot better too.”
The biggest change from the high school to college for Burgett has been how much of a demand it puts on the body.
“The physicality of the game, it’s a lot more different, it’s a lot more physical,” he said. “It wears on your body, I would say. Just being able to get good nutrition, eating right, and all of that. It’s not just playing the game, it’s more than that.”
And just like on the basketball court, the workload has also gotten heavier in the classroom. The adjustment from home life to college life is something that Burgett has learned quickly.
“It’s a lot more work,” he said. “Depending on yourself, you have to do more yourself and your parents aren’t always there to remind you. It’s the first time on your own and you’re doing your own thing.”
Burgett, a business management major, said he’s enjoyed his writing and rhetoric class the most in his first semester. History ranked at the bottom of his favorite classes.
His ease into college has been helped by teammates Scott Martin and Gary Sherman.
“Just looking at the upperclassmen showing me the ways of how to transition from high school,” Burgett said. “Teaching me what they did and they’ve helped me out.”
Burgett has played in six of the Irish’s 11 games this season with a team heavy-laden with upperclassmen. So far, the season highlight for him occurred Dec. 8 against Brown when he scored four points in three minutes.
He sees himself growing into a role like one of his mentors, Martin, or former Fighting Irish players Tim Abromaitis and Carleton Scott.
The experience of being at a prestigious university and getting the opportunity to play basketball is something that’s not easy to replicate.
“I don’t really know if words can describe it,” Burgett said. “It’s something you have to do, as it’s hard to explain. It’s a great opportunity.”
Burgett said, much like high school, as he walks to class almost all of the school knows who he is because of basketball.
“Everyone knows you,” Burgett said. “You’re walking around and they just know you. You have to have a good presence or good feeling about you.”
There has not been much opportunity to get homesick as Burgett has consistent support in South Bend.
“Family wise, they almost come up to every game,” he said. “If my family doesn’t come, then my friends always come and stay. We’ve really stayed connected.”