National Analyst List Vols’ Freshman as “Under-the-Radar” for Upcoming Season

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    (Photo via @beastboyburns on Twitter)

    Tennessee’s men’s basketball team is getting a lot of attention this offseason because of all the returning experience they bring back. But according to one national analyst, the Vols’ least experienced player on the roster will be someone to watch this upcoming season.

    Jon Rothstein, a college basketball insider for CBS Sports, tweeted out his 10 “under-the-radar” freshmen in the SEC for the upcoming 2018-19 basketball season. And he included Tennessee’s lone signee in their 2018 recruiting class, four-star forward D.J. Burns.

    Coming out of high school, Burns was rated as the No. 106 overall player and No. 14 center in the 2018 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Burns was originally part of the 2019 class but had enough credits to graduate high school early and ended up reclassifying to the 2018 class. The 6-foot-9, 248-pound post player chose the Vols over South Carolina earlier this year. He also held offers from Auburn, LSU, Georgia, Virginia, Oklahoma State, Houston, and many other schools.

    It remains to be seen just how big of a role Burns will play with the Vols in his true freshman season this upcoming year since upperclassmen like Kyle Alexander and Grant Williams figure to start and support players John Fulkerson and Zach Kent have more college experience than Burns and appear to be in better playing shape to start. But Burns’ ceiling is very high, and he should be a regular contributor in the future for the Vols.

    Burns is the highest-rated player Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes has signed since he took over as the Vols’ head coach prior to the 2015-16 season. He’s the only four-star player (according to the 247Sports Composite rankings) that Barnes has signed with Tennessee.

    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. He also totaled over 1,000 career points and rebounds in his high school career.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.