What D.J. Burns likes about USC basketball, Frank Martin
By today’s standards, D.J. Burns has an old school kind of game. He’s a 6-foot-9, 248-pound power forward who can thrive with his back to the basket. A dump inside to Burns and he can get to the rim or get fouled. It’s a style that was more commonly seen from players his size in the 1990s, back when “stretch-fours” didn’t exist.
Coach Frank Martin and the South Carolina program will host this rare kind of talent this weekend. Chris Richards, Burns’ AAU coach, told The State on Thursday that Burns plans to be in Columbia on Saturday and leave Sunday.
But how quickly until he returns? Can old school become a new USC commitment?
Burns is a rising senior at York Prep Academy in Rock Hill. The state’s fourth ranked prospect – according to 247Sports composite – has long been on Carolina’s radar. He’s a main class of 2019 target, along with fellow local products Juwan Gary and Josiah James. Martin visited Burns as recently as April 18.
The Gamecocks are competing with the likes of Tennessee, Georgia and Clemson for Burns. USC, though, has three scholarships to use in the ’18 class – and reclassifying is an option for Burns, Richards said.
“I think that’s something that he and his family are still talking about,” Richards said. “I know there’s a couple things he’s got to do to absolutely make it (into the 2018 class) 100 percent. But I think it might be a possibility.”
Burns has scored over 1,000 points and has grabbed over 1,000 rebounds in his York Prep career. The Patriots recently changed coaches, going from Frank Hamrick to former USC player Larry Davis.
Burns, meanwhile, is playing this spring for Richards’ Georgia Stars in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League.
“He’s done great,” Richards said. “He’s always been able to score the ball. He’s really shown that he can score the ball not only on the block, but outside the block area, from the foul line down. He’s able to knock down jump shots and really create for himself off of two or three dribbles.”
South Carolina has a version of Burns in Chris Silva. The 6-9, 223-pounder is a rising senior who declared for the NBA draft, but hasn’t hired an agent and has until May 30 to decide on his future.
Silva, on his way to making first-team All-SEC this past season, showed his ability to score (14.3 points per game) and rebound (8.0) without posing much of perimeter threat (see five 3s made on 12 attempts).
“D.J. has a different type of skill set, different type of footwork than most post players have now,” Richards said. “But the advantage that that gives is when you need an easy bucket close to the basket, you have someone you can throw it into the post to and he can create a shot or maybe a foul situation. You can control the flow of the game a little bit.
“The thing about D.J. is he passes so well. I don’t necessarily consider him a back-to-the-basket player – he’s as good facing up as he is with his back to the basket. The difference is he’s not a stretch-four or not a stretch post player. He’s a guy who’s looking to get it to the basket. If he needs to hit a jump shot, he can. But he’s really best with the ball in his hands and really creating for other people.”
Should it happen, is Burns ready for college basketball next season?
“Skill-wise, I think he’s absolutely ready,” Richards said. “I think offensively, he’s absolutely ready. Of course, he needs to do some work on his body and really get his body in shape so he can defend a little better and rebound a little better against the next level.
“But skill-wise, I absolutely think he’s ready.”
He stops by USC soon.
“I know they keep in contact with him,” Richards said. “His mother has spoken with me about South Carolina a lot. I know they think Coach Martin’s a good guy. That’s why they’re going on a visit. They really like what they see down there.”