Ten days ago, Annor Boateng’s commitment stirred euphoria – and raised a practical matter: how many spots would Missouri fill in its 2024 recruiting class?
On Sunday, Trent Burns supplied an answer by pledging the Tigers—all of them.
Burns, the No. 79 player in 247Sports’ composite index, picked the Tigers over Rice and Tulsa during a livestream with On3 Sports, becoming the fifth member of a top-10 class and the program’s second frontcourt pickup of the 2024 cycle.
It’s probably fair to label Burns a late bloomer. Until late April, the Houston-area native had fielded offers from mostly low- and mid-major programs, led by the hometown Owls. Yet Burns’ size, respectable mobility, and face-up game enticed the likes of Purdue, Ohio State, Xavier, and Nebraska to throw in their hats. After hosting Burns for an official visit in late June, the Boilers looked like early favorites.
But the interest from those suitors slowly ebbed over the past three months. Planned visits to Ohio State, Nebraska, and Xavier never transpired. That left MU and Rice, and the Tigers ultimately decided that adding another high-upside freshman was worth skewing the roster younger.
While Burns’ game has made noticeable strides, he’s still lanky and needs to add functional strength to play through contact. As his frame fills out, the 7-foot-2 post will learn how to use his body to maximize his length as a deterrent in the lane.
That’s going to require patience – and time. In the past, staffs might be willing to invest a couple of years in sculpting Burns. Now, though, they can dip into the portal, creating a situation where Burns, unranked to start the grassroots season, can make a rapid ascent and simultaneously be undervalued.
That suits MU just fine.
Burns fits the parameters for the type of prospect Gates and associate head coach Charlton Young cultivated while on staff at Florida State. Now, they’ll turn to that rubric again.
Let’s Meet Trent Burns
- From: Weatherford, Texas
- High School: PSAT Academy
- Position: Post
- Ht/Wt: 7-2/200
- Rivals Ranking: No. 75
- 247Composite Ranking: No. 79 (0.9765)
- Total announced offers: 16
- Offers to note: Purdue, Rice, Tulsa, Xavier
Seven games in April and May gave high-major programs reasons to rate Burns’ stock as a buy. Over that span, Burns only averaged 8.7 points and 5.1 rebounds, but he connected at 35.5 percent clip from behind the arc.
Plenty of bigs aspire for stretch-five status, but Burns, who attempts more than half his shots from long range, supplied proof that moniker might fit him. The question is whether that’s signal or noise. In 14 other games with Houston Hoops, Burns only knocked down 5 of 36 attempts.
Trent Burns | Post | 7-foot-2, 200 pounds | EYBL
Full disclosure: I’ve only watched five complete games of Burns, all from Peach Jam. That came nearly two months after his breakout. That week, he missed all seven 3-balls he hoisted up. However, he offset with 12 of 18 on 2-point attempts, helping him averaging 1.09 PPP.
So, everything is copacetic?
Well, Burns did some backfilling during Houston Hoops’ last game of pool play with 12 points on 6 of 10 shooting. In his four other outings, he averaged 3.5 points on 6 of 15 shooting. And he didn’t display the swing skill — floor-spacing — that spurred his rise.
Trent Burns | Post | EYBL | Efficiency
Some scouts have noted that Burns tends to float on the perimeter and settle for jumpers. I agree — to some extent. However, it’s also a byproduct of how his team played and the role that came with that stylistic choice.
Houston Hoops’ roster featured elite slashers Tre Johnson and Jalen Shelley, and any rational coach would want to give them wide gaps to attack. Doing so meant playing in four-out alignments and using Burns as a screener in spread pick-and-rolls. But instead of rolling to the rim or into post-ups, Burns would pop and set his feet. And if he wasn’t in the play, he’d often space out to the strong-side corner and bide his time for kickouts.
When he did post up, they came in the form of quick-hitting punch plays early in the clock. But those post touches showed that Burns is more of a technician than a bruiser. He relies on deft footwork to create space for a hook shot over his left shoulder or to reverse pivot for fallaway jumpers – even over smaller defenders.
And while some bigs sprint ahead on rim runs in transition, scouts noted that Burns acts as a trail shooter behind the play.
If Gates intends to use Burns in a similar role, then the prospect’s shooting stroke will need to be more reliable. Expanding his game in the lane will start in the weight room, adding functional strength to gain position and absorb contact when playing more direct to the rim. Those gains won’t come overnight, making patience a watchword.
On the defensive end, his length proved disruptive on post-ups and when guards used a big in the short corner as a safety valve. Burns also proved mobile enough to close down shooters at the free-throw line, elbow, and corner.
That said, Burns tends to alter shots instead of swatting them. And while he has functional mobility, his first slide is pedestrian. His hips don’t flip quickly to change direction with a dribbler. And he lacks elite foot speed in recovery.
Those weaknesses sometimes created complications if Burns had to close down a shooter or stick to their hip if they attacked his closeout. Sometimes, an opponent might test Burns’ ability to change direction. For example, MoKan Elite curled John Bol curl over screens to the rim, an action that gave Burns’ fits.
Again, Houston Hoops’ schematic choices didn’t always serve him well. Its ball-screen coverages were aggressive and tasked Burns to play at the level of the screener, hedge, and occasionally switch onto the ball handler while the primary defender recovered.
Brad Beal Elite exploited that tendency by shrinking its lineups and playing Burns, who only logged two minutes of action, off the floor. Two days later, he picked up two quick fouls against Team Melo and didn’t see the floor again until midway through the second quarter.
He was also foul-prone at Peach Jam, averaging 4.0 fouls per 40 minutes, a two-fold increase over his rate in other EYBL sessions. Those whistles came on post-ups where he ceded deep position, struggled to gauge the proper distance when contesting a jumper or lagged in recovering to a driver or roller.
No doubt, Burns has made strides. And yes, our sample size is limited. That doesn’t change the fact Burns is a raw prospect still getting comfortable in a lean frame and has plenty of sanding around the edges left to polish his game.
It’s one reason I wouldn’t fret about a logjam along the frontline. While Peyton Marshall needs to shed some weight, he has the frame and low-post game to serve as a fine complement to Jordan Butler. What about Jayden Quaintance? While the five-star prospect has handled the post, he projects as a hybrid four at the collegiate and pro levels.
There’s also the possibility the staff will forego a post-player in the 2025 class. Currently, MU only has three offers to post players in that group, and just one — Chaminade’s Ben Winker — has set foot on campus. EJ Walker, the No. 117 prospect nationally, is scheduled for an official visit on Oct. 6, but he’s a hybrid forward.
Think of it this way: Gates prefers to stash a top-80 talent now rather than take a prospect later. This arrangement could work out swimmingly if Burns is bought into a de facto redshirt season.