Fewer than two weeks ago, Lipscomb senior Jordan Burgason prepared for his last Battle of the Boulevard game against rival Belmont.
He had no idea it also would be his last college basketball game.
Three days after being dismissed from the school for violating team and school rules, Burgason is looking ahead to his professional basketball future. Instead of traveling with his Bison teammates to Florida this past weekend for a two-game road trip, Burgason has been working the phones trying to secure an agent with the hopes of landing overseas or on an NBA summer league team.
“It is a tough situation. One day I’m going to class and studying for some tests and the next day I don’t have to do any of that. It is a big shock,” Burgason told The City Paper on Monday. “Not being able to go down to Florida with the guys and not playing with them, I feel terrible about that. That is the consequence I have to pay, and I have to move on with my life. Don’t let this hold me back from big things in this world.
“It is going to be a big learning experience, but I plan to make the best of it.”
At the time of his expulsion, Burgason led Division I in 3-point shooting percentage (52.6) this season. He also was his team's leading scorer (16.4 ppg) and had established Lipscomb’s NCAA-era record for 3-pointers with 282. Twice this season, he set the school’s NCAA mark with nine 3-pointers — the first time coming against Iowa State in his hometown of Ames, Iowa.
He ranks 35th on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,132 points.
But his senior season started bumpy as he was suspended for the first five games due to a violation of team rules. A similar transgression prevented him from ending it with the Bison (12-13, 7-6 in the Atlantic Sun).
The 22-year-old said he violated the school’s code of conduct policy but declined to specify on what led to his dismissal.
“It is a personal issue that I’ve struggled with that went against their policy,” Burgason said. “It wasn’t drug related, but it was definitely something that went against their rules. It is really a personal issue that I don’t want to share publicly.
“They have their policies and I wasn’t abiding by them, and I got to pay the consequences for that.”
Lipscomb’s code of conduct policy is five pages long and, among other things, prohibits cursing, gambling, smoking and drinking alcohol. The university is affiliated with the Church of Christ.
Burgason said Lipscomb “showed their grace” in giving him a second chance after his misstep earlier in the season.
“I think Jordan understood what had to happen and we understood. Neither party was eager to have to part ways,” Lipscomb athletic director Philip Hutcheson said. “But both sides understood that is kind of where we were in the process. We continue to wish him well and I think he wishes Lipscomb well too. It is not an acrimonious thing. That’s just where we were in the process.”
Burgason said he has the opportunity to return to Lipscomb later to finish his degree in corporate management. He is 18 credit hours from graduating.
His immediate goals, however, involve basketball.
The 6-foot-3 guard, hopes to land overseas, filling in for a European league team for the last two months of the season. He is also entertaining the idea of going to southern California — where he has family and friends, including former NBA center Greg Foster — to train to earn a spot on an NBA summer league team.
“I’ve got some decisions I’ve got to make in the next 24, 48 hours,” Burgason said. “I think the sky is certainly the limit. I definitely can do some damage overseas. But I can be a spot-up shooter like [present and past Chicago Bulls guards] Kyle Korver or Steve Kerr, making a living shooting 3-pointers. Definitely my dream is to play here, in the NBA. But I just want to play basketball and make as much money as possible doing it.”