T.J. Warren put off the NBA for one season to show what he could do at N.C. State.
After leading the Wolfpack to the NCAA tournament, winning the ACC Player of the Year award and conference scoring title, he’s ready to jump to the NBA.
Two sources confirmed a Yahoo! Sports report Monday that Warren is expected to forgo his final two seasons of eligibility and enter the NBA draft.
Warren is set to meet with N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried on Thursday to discuss his options. He already met with his family and Garner Road Basketball Club coach Dwayne West on Sunday to begin the process of gathering information about his draft status.
NBAdraft.net and Draftexpress.com project Warren, a 6-foot-8 forward from Durham, to be a top 20 pick in the June draft.
Minutes after the initial Yahoo! Sports report, Warren put “Undecided” on his Twitter account. His father, Tony, said before the ACC tournament that the family would sit down with West after the season and compile feedback from the NBA. West’s younger brother, David, is a forward with the Indiana Pacers.
The deadline for underclassmen to submit their names for the draft is April 27 and the draft is June 26. Warren will be one of the top scorers available in what is expected to be an especially deep draft.
In an interview before the ACC tournament, he said he would make a decision after the season. Warren had 28 points in N.C. State’s 83-80 overtime loss to Saint Louis in the round of 64 on Thursday in the NCAA tournament.
“It just depends on what happens with my family and how I feel about it,” Warren said earlier this month. “Everyone wants to play in the NBA. With the type of year I’m having, anything can happen.”
Warren led the Wolfpack to 22 wins, including one in the NCAA tournament, in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season for Gottfried, who could not be reached for comment.
Warren, who led the ACC with 24.9 points per game, was the first N.C. State player since Julius Hodge in 2004 to win the conference’s player of the year award, winning both the coaches’ and media award.
As a freshman, Warren averaged 12.1 points and led the ACC in field goal percentage (62.2) as a role player. He considered going to the NBA last year.
“He’ll be able to show what he can do,” Tony Warren said last April.
That’s exactly what Warren did with one of the best seasons in school history. He was the first N.C. State player since Todd Fuller in 1995-96 to lead the ACC in scoring. His 871 points, in 35 games, eclipsed David Thompson’s single-season school record from the 1974-75 season.
Warren also led the ACC in field goal percentage (52.5) and ranked in the top 10 in the ACC in steals (1.8 per game), rebounds (7.1) and offensive rebounds (3.2).
He was particularly strong down the stretch as N.C. State, picked to finish 10th in the ACC, played its way off the bubble and into the NCAA tournament. Warren had back-to-back 40-plus point games in the last week of the regular season.
Only Thompson had done that in school history and Warren was the first player to score that many points in consecutive ACC games since 1957.
Gottfried and N.C. State’s staff entered the season believing this would be Warren’s last. The Wolfpack used three freshmen forwards regularly this season and has signed 6-8 forward Abdul-Malik Abu, a top 35 recruit in the class of 2014.
Seven of the nine regular players this season are expected to be back next season for the Wolfpack, which finished 22-14. Warren and senior Jordan Vandenberg are the only players expected to leave the program this offseason.
The Wolfpack’s Lorenzo Brown and C.J. Leslie entered the NBA draft early after the 2013 NCAA tournament and guard Rodney Purvis transferred to Connecticut.
Twins Cody and Caleb Martin, who play on the wing, are also signed in the incoming recruiting class and junior guard Trevor Lacey, a transfer from Alabama, will be eligible next season. That still leaves two open scholarships if Gottfried wants to add any transfers or more recruits.