Will NC State big man D.J. Burns drafted by an NBA team?

DJ Burns has lifted the NC State Wolfpack to an improbable and magical March Madness run, guiding the program to its Final Four appearance in four decades. However, questions remain about his NBA draft prospects.

NC State v Duke
NC State v Duke / Lance King/GettyImages

Amid an incredible March Madness run that has resulted in the eleventh-seeded NC State Wolfpack reaching the Final Four for the first time since they did it in 1983 under the tutelage of late legendary head coach Jim Valvano, big man DJ Burns has been a crucial piece in the surprising and miraculous success story, picking opponents apart in the paint at will.

At 6-foot-9 and 275 pounds, Burns is a commanding interior presence who possesses the size and strength to plow through defenders combined with exceptional footwork and a soft touch in the post, which he has shown repeatedly throughout the 2024 NCAA Tournament en route to being named the Most Outstanding Player in the South Region.

Burns has averaged 18.2 points, 5.0, and 3.5 assists per game while shooting 67.4 percent from the field in the four games that have led the Wolfpack to being one of four teams remaining in the tournament.

However, what does this mean for the NC State big man and his potential NBA draft prospects? Are pro teams buying what they’ve seen from Burns? Or do they feel this is merely a flash in the pan for the fifth-year senior?

Will NC State big man DJ Burns be drafted by an NBA team?

Despite dominating the competition and playing a critical role in the Wolfpack making their first Final Four appearance in four decades, Burns projects to go undrafted in the 2024 NBA Draft, per Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo of ESPN ($). Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman also left the big man off his most recent mock board.

But why? Burns is playing the best basketball of his collegiate career under the bright lights of The Big Dance and paving the way for the Wolfpack to continue their incredible underdog story. What is deterring NBA draft experts and teams from taking a chance on him?

While Burns has been able to use his size to his advantage in college basketball, that may not translate into him doing the same in the league. His unique build as a stocky player profiles him to be more of a tweener at the NBA level, possessing the skill set of a prototypical back-to-the-basket center who excels in the post but is the size of a wing, making it hard to envision where and how he’d fit into a rotation at the next level.

Moreover, Burns will be turning 24 around the time the 2024-25 NBA season begins, making him an older prospect – which is especially rare today in the “one-and-done” era.

While the odds appear stacked against Burns in his pursuit of becoming an NBA player, rumors have surfaced that he is garnering interest from NFL scouts and front-office executives as someone who could potentially make the transition to football. However, the reporting of this news comes on April Fools’ Day, so take it with a grain of salt.