Self-described “selfish decisions” cost Jordan Burgason five games of his senior season.
The worst part was knowing he might have jeopardized the trust of his Lipscomb teammates. The shooting guard quickly found out that wasn’t the case.
“I let them down, and I was definitely making some wrong decisions that took away from the team, and I totally regret it,” Burgason said. “It was just some selfish decisions I decided to make, and the team really took me in and showed their love for me. They were able to forgive me for the mistakes I’ve made.”
The Bisons’ support is being rewarded. One of just two seniors, Burgason has made up for lost time by displaying accountability on and off the court.
He is coming off a season-high 30-point performance at Iowa State and leads the team with 14.8 points per game heading into Friday’s 7 p.m. matchup at Belmont in the first of two Battle of the Boulevard contests.
The teams meet again on Feb. 3 at Lipscomb for the final matchup before Belmont leaves the Atlantic Sun to join the Ohio Valley Conference next year. They are currently in talks to tie down a contract that would keep the rivalry alive past this season.
For Lipscomb, Burgason’s progress is a promising sign for a season that started off bumpy.
He entered this winter as the top returning scorer and one of just two returning starters for a squad with seven newcomers.
Tabbed the 24th-best shooter in the country by CBS Sports — Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins was No. 1 — Burgason was looking forward to adding to his NCAA-era school record of 211 3-pointers. Those plans were delayed when he violated team rules and missed the first two weeks of the season.
“You would hope he’d make better decisions,” Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson said, declining to say what caused the suspension. “It is one of those things that is a growing process. We’ve moved past it, and he has moved past it. He hasn’t skipped a beat since he has been back.”
Burgason immediately contributed for the Bisons, scoring 20 points on six 3-pointers in his season debut, a 79-77 victory over Sacred Heart as Lipscomb captured the Mayan Division title of the Cancun Challenge in November.
Since then he has been at the forefront of the youthful Bisons (6-8), which feature seven freshmen and two sophomores.
“He is probably one of the first guys I really started trusting on the team as an older guy,” freshman guard Zavion Williams said. “He has a humble heart.”
With the team’s second-leading scorer, Williams, missing the last five games due to knee injuries, Burgason has been a go-to threat, especially on the perimeter.
He averages 3.9 3-pointers a game and has made 51.5 percent of shots beyond the arc.
“He is an awful good shooter,” Sanderson said. “He really knows how to play without the basketball. He knows how to get open. He can miss four or five in a row and thinks he can make the next 10 in a row. That is just how he thinks. He has shot the ball extremely well for us this year.”
Born and raised in Ames, Iowa, Burgason grew up rooting for Iowa State. His father went to school there, and the Burgasons lived just two miles from historic Hilton Coliseum.
Offered an opportunity to walk-on for his beloved Cyclones, Burgason opted instead to leave Ames and take a scholarship at Lipscomb.
Two weeks ago, he got to live out a dream and play a college game at Hilton — just wearing a different uniform. He didn’t disappoint the more than 200 friends, family members and former classmates in the crowd.
Though the Bisons lost the game, Burgason stole the show. He drained nine 3-pointers to tie an arena record and set Lipscomb’s NCAA mark.
“I felt like a little kid again,” he said. “I was a big Iowa State fan, and it was always my dream to play there, but to play against them, it was a lot of fun. It is a record that I will definitely remember for a long time. That game will probably go down as one of my best games ever, and to do that in front of all my family and friends back home is an honor.”
• Lipscomb sophomore guard Robert Boyd is no longer with the team after being ruled academically ineligible for the spring semester.
Boyd, a native of Knoxville, was the team's third leading scorer, averaging 11.2 points in 13 games.