Photo by: Suad Bejtovic Photography
At 23, Jameel Warney is several years removed from the days of writing a school paper about what he did for his summer vacation.
However, based on his experiences this past summer, the Texas Legends big man could have penned quite a compelling read.
That’s because Warney, who averaged 17.3 points, eight rebounds and 1.4 assists per game in 44 games for the Legends last season, played for the Mavericks in the NBA’s Orlando Summer League and then for the Clippers in the Vegas Summer League.
But the New Jersey native wasn’t done there. He also starred for Team USA, helping them to the gold medal in the 2017 FIBA AmericaCup Championship between August 25 and September 3.
In fact, Warney played so well for the Stars and Stripes that he was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
I had a great summer,” Warney said during Legends’ Media Day in early November. “I was proud of my performance. I think it was one of the best summers I’ve had in my life.”
Second-year Legends coach Bob MacKinnon Jr., who guided Texas to a 25-25 record last season, the most wins since the franchise relocated from Colorado in 2009, agrees that Warney had a busy summer.
However, like most coaches, MacKinnon feels that the more games a young player like Warney can get, especially in the NBA Summer League and in international competitions, the better it is in terms of accelerating his development.
Great summer, played internationally, went to the training camp for USA basketball, made the team and from there, wasn’t starting and all of a sudden, he’s the MVP,” MacKinnon said. “He’s a guy that just keeps coming and coming because he goes in every day and has the same work ethic every single day.”
But MacKinnon’s effusive praise of his young 6-foot-8 forward didn’t end there.
No, the veteran head coach also noticed Warney has a new weapon in his already formidable skill set, a new capability which will serve him well going forward.
I think you’ll see he’s added an outside shot to his game this summer,” MacKinnon said. “He worked endlessly on that and you can tell because he not only shoots it, but he shoots it comfortably right now, and I think he’s going to surprise some people with that.”
Texas played its first four games on the road and went 2-2 in those contests. Warney is averaging 14.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game this season.
And Warney is one of seven Legends players returning from last season, a number which MacKinnon called the most in the NBA G-League prior to the start of the season.
Naturally, Warney is glad to be back in Texas for year two of his budding professional career.
The good part about this team is you have a lot of roles in a year,” Warney said. “There were games (last season) where I was the fifth option. Then, after the All-Star break, I became one of the main focal points. You’ve got to change roles, expect the unexpected. You know what teams are expecting and you know teams are always watching, so you got to always be playing your hardest and hopefully you’ll break through somewhere.”
However, Legends fans hoping to catch their first glimpse of Warney this season at Dr Pepper Arena will have to wait a few weeks as Warney and new Texas teammate Donald Sloan, a Dallas native, will represent the Legends on Team USA during qualifiers for the November FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 American Qualifiers.
Warney and Sloan will suit up for the Stars and Stripes on November 23 against Puerto Rico in Orlando and again on November 26 against Mexico in Greensboro, North Carolina.
After that game, Warney will return to the Legends, where his goal remains the same as it’s always been.
Yeah, I think that’s definitely one of our goals, try to make the playoffs,” he said. “We had the franchise record for wins last year. It’s good to try to improve on that this year, make the playoffs and try to win a championship.”