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Really Big Big Men

At 285, Zion Williamson was a load in the ACC, but he ranks sixth on this list of heavyweight players

North Carolina State v North Carolina
CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 08: BeeJay Anya #21 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack drives against Kennedy Meeks #3 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during the game at the Dean Smith Center on January 8, 2017 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Dwight Keith “DJ” Burns Jr. has been, based on published preseason rosters, the heaviest player in the ACC the last two seasons. The 6-9 transfer from Winthrop, where he was 2022 Big South Player of the Year, is in his second season anchoring NC State’s front line.

Burns has done well in the ACC, starting 22 of 34 games in ’23 for NC State, playing a bit more than half of each contest. He finished third in scoring at 12.5 points per game, best per-minute on the roster, and fourth in rebounding (4.8). The fifth-year senior, who leads the Wolfpack in scoring this year (14.7 after 3 games), is a constant threat to employ his bulk to create operating room inside or to screen for others. His weight is down from 275 to a listed 260.

In fact, the burly Burns is now second in the ACC in poundage, supplanted by Virginia Tech’s 265-pound Mylyjael Poteat, a 6-9 senior formerly of Rice.

And, for all their massiveness, neither Burns nor Poteat ranks among the heaviest ACC players of the recent past.

The honor for heaviest in the ACC since 2010 goes to another Wolfpacker, Beejay Anya, a forward with a 7’9” wingspan who played from 2014-17 before rolling on to an overseas pro basketball career.

What the 6-9, 320-pounder did best on the court was block shots. His elevation, launch ability and timing were a bit surprising given the amount of weight he had to lift.

Anya tied Georgia Tech’s John Salley (1983-86) for 16th-most blocks in modern ACC history (243) while appearing in four more games. Coloring his total, Anya’s aggressiveness produced on average about 1.5 fouls per rejection.

Among plus-size basketballers Anya was also a bit of a sartorial oddity, wearing jerseys so tight they showed every bulge, every jiggle of his considerable flesh.

What Anya never did, as far as we recall, was engender inordinate attention from the Cameron Crazies, tamed since 6-10, 340-pound Nigel Dixon visited with Florida State some 25 years earlier.

That turn of the century crowd serenaded the very-big man’s first appearance with a special, tailored chant. “Please don’t eat me!” they serenaded the player nicknamed “Big Jelly,” the sort of topical riff that made the Duke cheering section notorious.

Those days are gone. Now cheering cheat sheets are distributed to Crazies entering the building, rife with such pithy comments as “When an opposing player receives his fourth foul: Wave four fingers at the player and yell ‘Four’”.

Heaviest Players in ACC Since 2010
(Five Years Include Redshirt Seasons)
Player, School Most Recent
Top Weight
Height Preceding Seasons
Beejay Anya, NCS 320 (2017) 6-9 290 (2016), 295 (2015), 275 (2014)
Rozelle Nix, UP 318 (2017) 6-11 300 (2016)
Reggie Johnson, UM 316 (2009) 6-10 284 (2013), 284 (2012), 303 (2011), 296 (2010)
Michael Ojo, FS 304 (2017) 7-1 294 (2016), 292 (2015), 290 (2014), 290 (2013)
KC Caudill, BC 300 (2015) 6-11 269 (2014), 275 (2013), 287 (2012)
Zion Williamson, D 285 (2019) 6-7 Freshman
Paul Grinde, C* 285 (2019) 6-10 Grad transfer
Joel James, NC 280 (2016) 6-11 280 (2015), 280 (2014), 260 (2013)
Dejuan Coleman, SU 280 (2014) 6-9 258 (2017), 255 (2016), 255 (2015)
Sam Japhet-Mathias, WF 280 (2017) 6-11 280 (2017), 280 (2018), 280 (2020)*
*At San Jose State