Winthrop men’s basketball coach Pat Kelsey received exciting news over the weekend, as the NCAA formally approved transfer D.J. Burns, a Rock Hill native and a former four-star recruit, to be immediately eligible to play in the 2019-20 season.
Burns, a standout at York Preparatory Academy in Rock Hill, transferred to Winthrop in July after red-shirting his freshman season at the University of Tennessee but would need a waiver from the NCAA to allow him to play immediately, rather than sit out one year due to transfer rules. The news from the NCAA over the weekend made it official that Burns could, in fact, suit up for the Eagles this coming season. The 6-9, 250 pound forward was originally the Class of 2019 but reclassified, graduated one year early and then became a member of the Tennessee Volunteers men’s basketball team for the 2018-19 season.
“First of all, I would like to thank Coach Barnes, his staff, and the University of Tennessee athletic department for the classy way with which they have handled the process of me departing the university, as well as assisting with a smooth transition to Winthrop University,” stated Burns. “I appreciate the opportunity I was given at UT and will cherish the memories I have from my time in Knoxville. It is with great excitement that I get to announce that the NCAA has granted me immediate eligibility at Winthrop University for this season! The way that I have been treated here since my arrival and the growth I am making is amazing. My teammates took me in as a brother from moment one and I am excited about pursuing championships with them here at Winthrop. Rock the Hill!”
I first want to thank the University of Tennessee for helping me in this process and for the hard work and memories I won’t forget. It is with great excitement that I get to announce that the NCAA has granted me immediate eligibility at Winthrop University! NOW LETS #ROCKTHEHILL pic.twitter.com/iy4VRO8CBs
Coming out of high school Burns was a four-star recruit and the third-ranked prospect in the state of South Carolina according to 247Sports.com industry composite for the Class of 2018. The two prospects ranked ahead of Burns were Zion Williamson (#1 pick in 2019 NBA Draft) and Ja Morant (#2 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft). In addition, he was also the nation’s 12th-ranked center and 103rd among all prospects nationally. He scored more than 1,000 points and hauled in more than 1,000 rebounds in his career at York Prep.