Tennessee’s 2018-19 basketball roster is essentially the same as last season’s, but there were still a few holes that needed to be filled in order for the Vols to improve on what was a successful season last year. And on Friday, the Vols were able to get one of the pieces they needed in order to fill one of those needs.
Four-star center D.J. Burns announced on Friday that he is committing to Tennessee in basketball. He chose the Vols over South Carolina and also had offers from Virginia, Auburn, LSU, Georgia, Virginia Tech, and others.
Burns recently reclassified from the 2019 class to the 2018 class, so he will be eligible to play immediately for the upcoming 2018-19 season. When he reclassified, the 247Sports Composite rankings changed his rating from the No. 79 overall player in the 2019 class to the No. 103 overall player in the 2018 class.
Despite that drop, though, Burns is the highest-rated player that Tennessee has brought in under Rick Barnes.
Prior to today, the highest-rated player Tennessee had landed in a recruiting class in the Rick Barnes era was borderline four-star Yves Pons. According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Pons was the No. 127 overall player in the 2017 class and was considered a four-star small forward who was raw but had a ton of upside.
Though younger, Burns is considered more polished than Pons was, and Burns has an opportunity to make an impact immediately.
Burns was a standout for York Prep High School in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He amassed 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds in high school, and the 6-foot-9, 248 pound center made waves in summer leagues as well.
His film shows off his extensive offensive game. The latest film available is of his 2016-17 season performance, but even then it was apparent that he has high level offensive talent. He doesn’t just use his size to bully his way to the basket; Burns knows several post moves and even has a solid jump shot. He’s a force on defense as well, altering and blocking shots on several occasions. He’s a back to the basket type player who plays a little more old school than most post players today. But his game isn’t stuck in the past; he’s developed well and could contribute immediately as a freshman.
During the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League last summer Burns totaled 7.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks in just 16.1 minutes per contest. He shot 55.3 percent overall from the field and a solid 70 percent from the free throw line in those eight games.
It’s unclear right now if Burns will redshirt in his first year at Tennessee or if he’ll play immediately off the bench. He’s said before he’s open to redshirting if needed, but he’s developed enough to contribute as a true freshman too. His impact this season will likely be determined by just how much the Vols’ other post players have developed over the offseason.
Tennessee has one more scholarship available for the upcoming 2018-19 season. Richmond grad transfer Khwan Fore has at least temporarily delayed his arrival to Tennessee, and that situation could either get worked out or see the Vols and Fore move on from each other. If Fore ends up at Tennessee, the Vols’ 2018-19 roster will be set. If not, then UT will have an open spot they can use for another transfer or incoming freshman, or they can save that scholarship for the 2019 cycle.
The addition of Burns is a big get for Barnes and the Vols, and he adds a little star power to an already loaded roster for the upcoming season.