T.J. Warren puts NBA on hold, will keep playing for NC State

jgiglio@newsobserver.comApril 4, 2013 

  • Wholesale changes

    N.C. State’s starting lineup will look vastly different next season:

    Guard Anthony Barber, 6-2, fr.

    (Rated No. 23 in the ESPN top 100)

    Guard Ralston Turner, 6-6, jr.

    (12.3 ppg at LSU in 2010-11)

    Forward T.J. Warren, 6-8, soph. (12.1 ppg)

    Forward Kyle Washington, 6-9, fr.

    (Rated No. 83 in the ESPN top 100)

    Forward BeeJay Anya, 6-9, fr.

    (Rated No. 69 in the ESPN top 100)

T.J. Warren contemplated a jump to the NBA after his freshman season at N.C. State.

Instead of hoping to be a first-round pick, Warren plans on playing his way up the draft board.

Warren decided to return to N.C. State on Wednesday, giving the program some much-needed good news and coach Mark Gottfried a proven scorer for his third Wolfpack team.

“This is what’s best for him,” Warren’s father, Tony, said Wednesday.

Warren, a versatile 6-8 forward, will be the Wolfpack’s leading returning scorer after averaging 12.1 points as a freshman. The McDonald’s All-American from Durham led the ACC and ranked fourth in the NCAA in field goal percentage (62.2 percent) and was named to the All-ACC freshmen team by both the media and the league’s coaches.

In a supporting role this past season, he scored at least 20 points five times and a season-best 31 in an 84-66 win against Florida State on Feb. 19.

His role will expand next season with N.C. State losing five of its top six scorers from a 24-11 team. Warren, who started 14 games and averaged 27 minutes per game, will have a chance to significantly improve his numbers in a reconfigured Wolfpack lineup built around him.

DraftExpress.com rates Warren as the No. 31 prospect, ahead of former teammates Lorenzo Brown and C.J. Leslie, who have both already declared for the draft.

But Warren’s father said if his son makes the type of improvements expected in his second season, he could potentially move into the draft lottery.

“He’ll be able to show what he can do,” his father said.

Warren moved into the starting lineup before his breakout game against the Seminoles and started the final 10 games of the season, replacing guard Rodney Purvis in the process.

Purvis decided on Monday to transfer after one season. With the exits of Brown and Leslie, Gottfried needed Warren to put the NBA on hold. Gottfried declined to comment on Warren’s decision on Wednesday.

Warren played mostly on the perimeter as a freshman but without Leslie or senior forward Richard Howell, he could be featured more in the high post.

Warren could also get more jumpers next season. He made 51.9 percent (14 of 27) of his 3-pointers as a freshman.

Tony Warren said no matter where his son winds up playing, he needs to improve his free-throw shooting. Warren made 54.2 percent (39 of 72) of his free throws this past season.

“He’s normally a good free-throw shooter,” Tony Warren said. “I don’t know what happened in college.”

Warren has already shown an aptitude for improvement. He averaged 3.4 rebounds in the first 25 games of the season and 6.0 in the final 10 as a starter.

Even with Warren’s return, N.C. State still has six available scholarships to add to the freshmen class or bring in other transfers.

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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