November 3, 2011

The significance of landing T.J. Warren




When five-star forward T.J. Warren announced his decision to attend NC State, it sent shockwaves through the basketball recruiting world. Before he has even coached a game in Raleigh, head coach Mark Gottfried has Wolfpack fans in a frenzy, and for good reason.

The addition of the Durham, N.C. native, who is playing his senior year at Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Academy, gives Gottfried a pair of five-star scorers, with Warren and combo guard Rodney Purvis in the fold, along with a four-star distributor who may be the best ball handler in his class in Tyler Lewis.

Rivals.com updated its recruiting class rankings following Warren's announcement on Wednesday afternoon and the Pack currently checks in as the No. 3 class in the country. Rivals' national basketball recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer said reeling in a third big-time, in-state recruit goes a long ways towards Gottfried's goal of locking up the state's borders and keeping the best talent home.

"It's another terrific piece to what is shaping up to be a great recruiting class," Meyer said. "Getting T.J. is going to put them in the top five in recruiting rankings right now. Anytime you can add a five-star is a big deal. I think all three of these players - I don't know if you would call them North Carolina State's to lose - but they are all guys that Coach Gottfried expects to get, that's what he wants to do. I wouldn't consider them overwhelming recruiting victories, but maybe you could call them must-wins and it's very important that you win your must-wins. They're all like must-win big games because all three players are highly talented."

Warren shot up the national basketball rankings this past spring and summer with an outstanding showing on the traveling circuit. The 6-foot-8, 230-pounder is currently ranked as the nation's No. 6 small forward and the No. 23 overall player in the class of 2012.

"He's developed because I think he's become a really confident scorer and you can't underestimate the ability of a player to make shots, how important that is for a team," Meyer said. "With Rodney and T.J., those are a couple of really powerful scorers to go along with a point guard that has a great feel for getting guys the ball.

"First of all, picking up T.J. Warren gives NC State a second five-star recruit in Coach Gottfried's first year and he's another guy who is a local guy," Rivals' national basketball recruiting analyst Eric Bossi added. "He's the type of guy who they have to be able to compete for and he's a huge get on several levels. A fan of any of the programs in the Triangle area can see that he's a big get on any level.

"It's significant with everything that is going on - NC State has obviously had some struggles over the past few years on Tobacco Road, they're always going to be competing with UNC and Duke and the rest of the ACC. Also, I think with a new coach coming in, you're looking for excitement in the program; to be able to get those three local kids to buy-in together - Tyler Lewis was already committed, but they still had to re-recruit him - is big. That's a top-five recruiting class right now and they're still trying to build on that."

Longtime recruiting analyst Brick Oettinger of PrepStars.com and The ACC Sports Journal thinks Warren is a top-ten talent and has high expectations for the trio of Wolfpack commits under Gottfried, who he thinks highly of.

"I think Warren's going to get good coaching at State and Gottfried is in the process of proving that he can not only recruit at the top of the ACC - I don't think there should have been any question about that - but I think he will also prove that he can coach at that level," he said. "When Warren comes in, he'll be a contributor, just like Purvis and Lewis; all of those guys can play. Having a guy like Lewis to dish the ball around to the scorers makes a lot of difference, you could see it when Carolina got Kendall Marshall in the lineup last year, you saw the difference it makes. I think T.J. will fit in very will with Purvis and Lewis and possibly others, [Amile] Jefferson or whoever else they go after."

Be on the lookout in Friday's edition of The War Room for comments from Bossi, Meyer and Oettinger on Warren's game.


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