By John Helsley
We, and Jeff Capel, were waiting on Willie Warren to finalize his playing plans for next season (should he stay/should he go?).
The waiting is over. And for you, Sooners fans, and yes Capel, too, the news was worth waiting for. Warren has announced that he’ll be returning for at least another season at OU.
It couldn’t have been an easy decision for Warren.
While Warren may not be ready to hold down a regular job in the NBA, due to a weak draft he was being projected as a likely lottery pick if he made himself available for the NBA Draft.
That means big bucks, somewhere in the $2 million neighborhood, plus or minus a couple hundred thousand, if he’d gone from No. 6 to No. 10 as most projections place him.
That’s quite a few downloads for the iPod.
And yet, there’s much to gain for Warren in his return to the Sooners (See Griffin, Blake).
This isn’t to say that Warren’s situation will mirror Griffin, who went from a lottery pick to the lock to be picked No. 1 overall. But like Griffin, Warren can grow his game, play a bunch — not a given in the NBA — and leave his imprint on the program in a system that will better reflect his skills.
Willie, to his credit, fit into OU’s Griffin-dominated style this season.
Next year, it would be his team; his style, featuring him breaking down defenses off the dribble, creating for himself and teammates. He could lead the Big 12 in scoring and lead the Sooners on another extended postseason run.
All the while, he can work out some flaws and make himself more ready to make an impact in his rookie season in the NBA. And have some fun living the college life along the way. That’s worked out pretty well for Sam Bradford, Gerald McCoy, Griffin and others.
Scouts like his potential. Check out this link.
And yet, if he’d jumped, his playing time would have come down to how well he fixes a few things on the fly.
Scouts don’t like his shot, which is hoisted from his shoulders. At the college level, defenders have to respect Warren’s quickness, so they back off, which allows Warren to get his shot off. In the NBA, speedy defenders will be in his grill.
At some point, Warren will have to extend his shot up over his head.
Clearly, Warren faced a difficult decision.
And yet, there was no wrong choice. This one will go over well in Norman.