"I talked to my mom extensively the last few weeks and I feel like the best move for me is to make the jump. Coach (Jeff) Capel is in my corner and said he'll help me out as much as he can."
The decision doesn’t come as a surprise, as Warren hinted going into the season this would be his final year in Norman.But it wasn’t the kind of season he had hoped to end his career on. After a banner freshman season, Warren came back to school with hopes of padding his draft stock. Instead, his shooting percentages plummeted, his turnovers rose, and OU struggled to its first losing season in 29 years. "My freshman year I feel like I made some big contributions and I was somewhat satisfied," said Warren. "I feel like I could have scored more, but I understood the makeup of our team and it was a great feeling to make it all the way to the Elite Eight. My sophomore year was up and down and tough on all of us. It was a roller coaster ride, especially for me with my ankle injury and being sick.
"But if I had to make my decision all over again, I would make the same one to attend OU. It was the best experience of my life and I want to thank all the Sooner fans who were behind me. My ankle is doing great and now it's time to take the next step."
Early on, coach Jeff Capel publicly questioned Warren’s attitude and leadership. Illness and injury also plagued Warren’s season, as he was forced to sit out OU’s final six games with an ankle injury that required season-ending arthroscopic surgery.Going into last season, Warren was thought to be a surefire lottery pick, after a freshman season in which he earned Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors. Now, Warren apparently has work to do just to be a first-rounder. ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford, who once had Warren as the No. 4 overall prospect in the upcoming draft, currently ranks him No. 32. "I'm very happy for Willie and definitely think he's ready for the next level," said Capel. "I appreciate everything he's done for our program and look forward to watching another Sooner in the NBA."
Warren is the third Sooner underclassman to leave the program since the season ended last month.Freshman point guard Tommy Mason-Griffin, the team’s second-leading scorer behind Warren, declared for the NBA Draft late last month, even though many analysts believe he’ll go undrafted. Swingman Ray Willis has also left the program, with intentions of transferring elsewhere. Tiny Gallon could end up joining them. The eligibility of the freshman forward is in question, after reports surfaced last month he accepted a $3,000 wire deposit from a financial adviser last August. Warren said he has not signed with an agent but expects to soon.