D.J. Burns isn’t your average-sized musician.
At 6-foot-9, the junior gets plenty of stares and comments each time he performs with the York Prep concert band.
“It is always really awkward because when I am walking back after we perform, we have to walk in front of the crowd. People are like that guy is too big to be with these kids,” Burns joked.
Burns plays up to four instruments – his main one is baritone saxophone. He also plays alto saxophone, piano and bass guitar.
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Burns comes from a musical family – his mother and sister are both singers. His mom and dad encouraged him to give music a try when he arrived at York Prep in the eighth grade.
“It was something that kept me from being in trouble or doing something I’m not supposed to do after school,” Burns said. “I didn’t do anything bad. My parents were like try something new, and I ended up liking it.”
As much as Burns enjoys playing musical instruments, it’s his play and potential on the basketball court that is his ticket to college. He is part of a talented junior class in South Carolina, which includes Lower Richland’s Christian Brown, Gray Collegiate’s Juwan Gary, Porter-Gaud’s Josiah James and teammate Deuce Dean.
Burns has close to 20 Division I offers and is being recruited by South Carolina. He attended a USC game in November, which five-star prospect Williamson also was scheduled to attend.
The two talked about the incident Saturday when York Prep took on Spartanburg Day. Williamson didn’t play in the matchup as he continues to recover from a foot injury but should be back this week.
“We laughed about the whole South Carolina thing. That was pretty cool,” Burns said. “I was hoping he could play in the game, but I hope he is back soon.”
Burns said that it wasn’t the first time he has been mistaken for Williamson. He has had it happen a couple other times, when he has politely told people that he isn’t the No. 2 recruit in the country.
But outside of looks and size, Burns’ game is very different than Williamson’s. He is more of a traditional back-to-the-basket big man, whose game continues to evolve.
Burns is averaging 15.3 points and 10.5 rebounds a game and was MVP of the Poinsettia Classic in Greenville over Christmas break. He scored 23 points and had eight rebounds in Friday’s 65-63 win against Providence Day, which won a championship at last month’s Chick-fil-A Classic.
York Prep coach Frank Hamrick raves about Burns’ unselfishness and passing ability. He also is pleased with things he continues to add to his game, including an outside jump shot.
“I think with him he always is developing and always is a great passer. His foot work and feel for the game is unreal,” Hamrick said. “I see this kid as being a pro some day. I think the next step in where he goes is huge because his development has to continue. We want him to go somewhere they are going to use and develop a big man and continue on that path.”
Burns hopes to narrow down his recruiting list soon. He has made two unofficial visits to Tennessee, including a game last month, and has visited South Carolina and North Carolina State.
Burns will be in Columbia on Monday when he and York Prep play Lakewood in the Crescent Construction MLK Bash at Eau Claire High School.
“I don’t have a front runner as of now, but I really like USC,” Burns said. “I like way coach Martin plays, and he is strict on his team and likes to play defense, day in and day out. They go in the post too. That’s what I like about them.”
Crescent Construction MLK Bash
At Eau Claire
Saturday’s girls’ games
Cardinal Newman vs. Dreher, 11 a.m.
Swansea vs. Richland Northeast, 12:30 p.m.
Orangeburg-Wilkinson vs. Spring Valley, 2 p.m.
Lower Richland vs. Westwood, 3:30 p.m.
Wilson vs. Ridge View, 5 p.m.
Monday’s boys’ games
Hartsville vs. Cardinal Newman, 11 a.m.
Sumter vs. Wilson, 12:30 p.m.
Hammond vs. Lower Richland, 2 p.m.
York Prep vs. Lakewood, 3:30 p.m.
Ridge View vs. Keenan, 5 p.m.