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BASKETBALL: Burton knows language of the game

Former BNL standout Ryan Burton has been living his basketball dream as a walk-on at Indiana University. Photo courtesy of

Former BNL standout and Indiana University walk-on Ryan Burton will travel to China to compete in the World University League.
Photo courtesy of

Former BNL standout set

to compete in 3-on-3

event during China trip

By Justin Sokeland

The Chinese word for basketball is lanqiu. Some aspects of the sport need no translation. Ryan Burton doesn’t know one word of Mandarin, but he can speak the universal language of the game.

Burton, a former standout at Bedford North Lawrence and a walk-on at Indiana University, will represent his country in a unique format next week when he visits China to compete in the World University League in Xiamen.

The competition, under the oversight of the International University Sports Federation, is a 3-on-3 event featuring 16 international teams. Burton will join forces with former IU teammate Max Bielfeldt, Nate Ritchie and Dalton Judd in the second annual event.

Now this isn’t the typical 3-on-3 fund-raiser or playground battle. The games will feature a 12-second shot clock and a 10-minute game clock in a race to 21 points. It’s fast paced, and the Hoosier foursome is preparing for the up-tempo concept.

“We’ve been trying to get used to that,” Burton said. “We’re used to running and gunning, but a 12-second shot clock is pretty quick. It’ll be different, that’s for sure. We’ve been playing more one-on-one than we have in quite a while. It sounds like it will be pretty good competition.

Ryan Burton helped BNL post a 19-3 record as a senior in 2011.

Ryan Burton helped BNL post a 19-3 record as a senior in 2011.

“We have a couple of quick hitters. We’ll work on some stuff, some schemes, before we head over, but we’ll probably end up playing off of each other’s strengths. We’ll feel it out and go from there.”

Burton, after two seasons at Bellarmine, spent two years as a walk-on with the Hoosiers, and he totaled 14 points and 9 rebounds (including a season-high 6 points in 10 minutes against Rutgers) in 24 games off the bench last season. Bielfeldt contributed 8.2 points and 4.5 rebounds during his lone season at Indiana while winning the Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year award.

They’re going to dig a little into the IU playbook for some quick sets.

“We can just call out what we’re running, and they won’t know what we’re talking about,” Burton said.

Of course, that works both ways, especially off the court. Burton, who spent six weeks in Europe in the spring, and his teammates expect to encounter a language barrier when they visit – with the help of IU alumni who will meet them there and help escort them – the familiar Chinese tourist destinations.

“It should be a lot of fun – once you get past the 17-hour flight to Hong Kong,” Burton said with a laugh. “Then we should be good to go.”

The Indiana contingent will depart Saturday for the 10-day trip, highlighted by the four days of competition.