Warren Officially Announces Return
April 18, 2009
NORMAN, Okla. - After a 40-minute meeting with his head coach and his mother Saturday, University of Oklahoma freshman guard Willie Warren announced that he will return to OU for his sophomore season.
Warren, a 6-4, 207-pound guard who was the unanimous choice as Big 12 freshman of the year and was voted the national freshman of the year by Athlon Sports, was projected by some analysts as a potential NBA Draft lottery pick.
The Fort Worth, Texas, product averaged 14.6 points, 3.1 assists and 1.1 steals while shooting .473 from the field, .372 from 3-point range and .781 from the free throw line for the 30-6 Sooners. His 67 3-pointers set an OU freshman record while his 3-point percentage ranked second all-time among Oklahoma frosh. Warren helped OU reach the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight.
"I've been telling people the whole year that I was coming back," said Warren. "I had no intentions of leaving in the beginning, but my name started getting thrown around in the (NBA) lottery draw. My mom wanted to take the process slow and didn't want to make any quick decisions that we'd regret. I feel like I made the right decision by staying here at OU.
"My goal is to go to the NBA, but I just don't feel my game has matured enough."
OU head coach Jeff Capel said he wanted to make sure Warren knew the specifics of his options.
"Willie had been saying the whole time he was coming back, but I just wanted to be sure that he was coming back for the right reasons -- which I knew he was," said Capel. "But also, I wanted him to know what opportunities are out there. I owe that to my players -- to give them enough information where they can make informed decisions, because this is about their future. For some of these guys it's a chance to maybe make a lot of money and take care of their family."
Warren said his mind was already made up prior to Saturday's sitdown.
"Coach Capel already knew where I stood with my decision to come back, but he hadn't really heard from my mom about what her thoughts and fears might be," said Warren. "Our meeting today was just to make sure that everyone was on the same page as far as expectations for next year."
What were those expectations?
"Coach asked me what my individual goals are and I told him I want to be first-team All-Big 12, Big 12 player of the year, first-team All-American and potentially (national) player of the year. And I told him a Final Four or a national championship would be nice, too. He told me I will have the same opportunity as (reigning national player of the year) Blake (Griffin) did, it's just up to me what I do with it. I have to be willing to take up the challenge."
Warren will have a lot of talent surrounding him next season in Norman. Also back will be fellow starting guard Tony Crocker, as well as Orlando Allen, Cade Davis, T.J. Franklin, Beau Gerber, Juan Pattillo, Ray Willis and Ryan Wright. Capel signed a five-man recruiting class (all will be freshmen) that ranked in the top five nationally in November. The group includes McDonald's All-Americans Keith "Tiny" Gallon and Tommy Mason-Griffin, as well as Andrew Fitzgerald, Kyle Hardrick and Steven Pledger.
"I feel like we'll have one of the top teams (in the country) next year," said Warren. "We're going to be special. We'll be a different team without Blake, obviously, but we'll be up and down (the floor) a lot more than we were this year."