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Warren’s NBA stock? Polarizing.

Jake Trotter Modified: April 18, 2013 at 4:50 pm •  Published: January 25, 2010
Warren's become one of the most polarizing prospects in the upcoming NBA Draft.

Warren's become one of the most polarizing prospects in the upcoming NBA Draft.

On Friday, SI’s Ian Thomsen named his five top prospects for next June’s NBA Draft. Among those Top 5 was Oklahoma’s Willie Warren, along with Ohio State swingman Evan Turner, Kansas center Cole Aldrich Syracuse forward Wes Johnson and everyone’s basketball Messiah, Kentucky point guard John Wall.

Wall is a Blake Griffin-esque lock to be the No. 1 pick, but here’s what one NBA exec told Thomsen about Warren:

“If a team needs a big, they’ll take Aldrich; if they need a point guard, they’ll take Willie Warren,” an executive said. Though Warren is listed as a shooting guard for Oklahoma, he has the potential to shift to the point in the NBA. “He is talented, he’s quick, he can shoot it, and I think he can be a ’1.’ If he was in last year’s draft with all of those point guards, I don’t think he would be rated this high. But this year, after John Wall [and potentially Evan Turner], there is no other point guard. So he is going to benefit from the timing of the draft.

“But I will say,” continued this exec, “a lot of [NBA] guys are down on Warren because of questions about character. [Oklahoma coach Jeff] Capel benched him one game this year and, instead of saying he had a headache or he’d banged his knee in practice, he chose not to explain it. Obviously there’s some friction there, and the team is not as good without Blake Griffin. But Warren is a talented guy and, at the very least, he’s going to be a top-10 pick.”

For the record, Warren said he was held out because he didn’t practice on the Sooners’ off day before beating winless Nicholls State in the fifth-place game of the Great Alaska Shootout.

NBADraft.net projects Warren as the No. 20 pick to the (ha!) Oklahoma City Thunder, where he’d join former VCU guard Eric Maynor, who has Capel’s fingerprints all over his game as well.

The Thunder won’t be drafting another athletic 1 or 2, but plenty of NBA teams will, and Warren is becoming one of the more polarizing prospects in the upcoming draft. (All this, of course, assuming he leaves.)

The dividing line among his national perception appears to be clear. NBA writers and execs are singing the sophomore’s praises. Those who get paid to watch college basketball say they don’t see it.

Today, rather harshly, I might add, Seth Davis shot back at Thomsen:

• I saw my colleague Ian Thomsen quoted some NBA scouts pegging Oklahoma guard Willie Warren as high as No. 4 in this year’s draft. That truly boggles the mind. Warren is barely looking like a pro right now, much less a top-five pick. I suggest those scouts DVR a couple of Sooners games before recommending to their bosses that they make that investment.

Personally, I don’t think anything he does at OU short of an off-court incident will make his stock drop past the first round. A dynamite second half of the season might make it skyrocket.

There’s no way to know what kind of NBA player Warren will be, but that won’t stop people from debating it from now until June.

(Or maybe next June?)

Follow me on Twitter: @DavidUbben

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