Maryland forward Jerome Burney’s basketball career is over because of foot injuries that plagued him throughout his three years in College Park.
Burney, who is on track to earn his kinesiology degree in the spring, said he will serve as Maryland’s assistant strength and conditioning coach this season.
“I know I can still play the game, but I know with the constant practicing and games, my feet wouldn’t be able to handle the stress of a season,” Burney said Friday. “Me playing pickup two to three times a week, that’s OK because I’d not be doing much. But practicing one to three hours four, five, six days out of the week and then when we don’t practice add a game or two… my body can’t handle it.”
Burney averaged 1.5 points and 1.7 rebounds in 26 games at Maryland. He redshirted his first season after fracturing his left ankle before preseason practice; he also suffered broken metatarsal bones in both feet during his career. His final season ended in February when he fractured the sesamoid bone in his right foot.
The Atlanta native appeared in nine games last season, playing just twice after Dec. 7. He visited with doctors in the summer and said he knew by mid-August his career likely was finished.
“If I had calcification [problems] from it, maybe I could drink more milk or something,” Burney said. “Since I didn’t have that, it was because the bones aren’t structured properly to handle the way I play. Maybe if I played another way, I could play. I play above the rim, so my feet can’t handle it.”
Burney said it was difficult to watch teammates play pickup games in the offseason, but he is eager to help the program this season. Strength and conditioning coach Paul Ricci is splitting the team in two during lifting sessions, with Ricci and Burney each observing a group.
Burney said the choice wasn’t easy, but he could accept it because he had pursued so many avenues to try to recover.
“I feel a lot better about it because, if I had to make the decision, I was ready,” Burney said. “I feel more comfortable.”