Sophomore guard is named publication's preseason national player of the year.
Nov. 6, 2009
NORMAN, Okla. - If The Sporting News' prediction holds true, come next spring the Oklahoma men's basketball team will have produced national players of the year in back-to-back seasons. The magazine has named OU's Willie Warren as its preseason national player of the year.
Warren, a 6-4, 203-pound sophomore who is considered by many college basketball analysts as the country's best shooting guard, is coming off a 2008-09 campaign that saw him claim Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors and earn freshman All-America acclaim.
Warren averaged 14.6 points and 3.1 assists per contest last year for a 30-6 OU squad that reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. He scored at least 20 points seven times and topped the 30-point mark twice. He also set school freshman records for starts (34) and 3-point makes (67), and shot a team-high .372 from behind the arc.
"I'm not going to lie, being named preseason player of the year is pretty cool," said Warren before OU's Friday afternoon practice. "I'm extremely honored by it. I'm just looking forward to a fun year with my teammates and coaches. We've got a lot of really talented players and we're going to have a great season."
Only one player in school history scored more points as a true freshman than Warren did last year and that was Wayman Tisdale in 1982-83. Warren finished the season with 525 points and is looking to join Tisdale, Alvan Adams and Blake Griffin as the only Sooners to score 1,000 points by the end of their true sophomore season.
Warren, who scored 23 points and handed out five assists (no turnovers) in 28 minutes against British Columbia in exhibition play Tuesday, will look to follow Griffin as national player of the year. Griffin was last season's consensus honoree after averaging 22.7 points and 14.4 rebounds, and shooting a Big 12-record .654 from the field.
The Sooners open the regular season with a home game against Mount St. Mary's on Saturday, Nov. 14, at 1 p.m. CT (the OU football team hosts Texas A&M at 6 that night). Mount St. Mary's is picked by Blue Ribbon Yearbook to win the Northeast Conference.