Throughout the 2013-14 college basketball season, the NC State Wolfpack have repeatedly called upon sophomore forward T.J. Warren to put the team on his back, and the youngster has always answered. The Wolfpack would be nowhere near the 19-12 record they have without Warren’s contributions, which led to him beating out Duke freshman Jabari Parker for the ACC Player of the Year Award on Tuesday afternoon and should push him to the 2014 NBA Draft.
For the entirety of the season Warren has been a prolific scorer, averaging 24.8 points per game, a 53.2 field goal percentage, 71.1 percent from the free throw line, and he has scored 27 or more points in 12 out of 30 games played. That the next highest scorer on NC State is Ralston Turner at only 10.0 points per game is a testament to Warren’s dominance, as is the fact that he led the team in minutes per game, rebounds per game and steals per game. Not only was Warren the best player in the ACC, but he was one of the best players in the nation as a whole and it’s a shame he isn’t a finalist for the Naismith Player of the Year Award.
As Warren and NC State head into the ACC Tournament there is very little chance that they pick up the championship, no matter how good their star player is. After all they would have to win four games in four days with three victories having to come against Syracuse, Duke and either Virginia or UNC. The likelihood of this happening is minimal at best, and NC State will ultimately end up playing in the NIT Tournament.
Playing on past the current postseason would not make much sense at all for Warren, who likely will not have any higher value for the NBA Draft than he does now. The 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward is big, strong, attacks the rim with vigor, can shoot the ball within the three-point line and is good enough to play defense against small forwards in the NBA. The only real knock against the sophomore is that he doesn’t shoot great from three-point range, but this is something that can be worked upon and nearly every prospect has some flaw.
There is little doubting that Warren would likely slot in between 13-15 at the 2014 NBA Draft, although if he continues to rack up 30 point games with consistency he could move into the top ten. That slot should be too much to pass up for the sophomore forward, and taking home the ACC Player of the Year Award should provide a consolation gift for the walk out the door.