Stony Brook’s Jameel Warney was a three-time America East player of the year and elite rebounder and shooter, and Hofstra’s Juan’ya Green won Colonial Athletic Association player of the year honors last season while ranking among the nation’s assist leaders. But with only 60 picks in the NBA Draft, it’s a numbers game, and all the numbers compiled by the two mid-major stars may not add up to a second-round pick.
Warney, who has worked out for five NBA teams, and Green, who only worked out for the Knicks, understand the odds are stacked against them Thursday night.
“If a team drafts me, I’ll show them it was a good pick,” Warney said. “I feel with my skill level and this chip on my shoulder, if I get to training camp, it’s all about proving people wrong.”
Green said he always watches the NBA Draft on television in the hope of seeing his friends in the sport realize their dream come true, but he’s prepared to take the long road. “I’m not really worried about that,” Green said of getting drafted. “I just work on my craft every day and make sure my game is tight going into these workouts. Hopefully, I get on a summer league team and go from there.”
Warney generated buzz in draft circles when he carried Stony Brook to its first NCAA Tournament berth with a 44-point game in the America East title win over Vermont followed by a 23-point effort in a first-round loss to Kentucky. But he admitted that cooled after he struggled at the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational for draft prospects.
“It was a bad week, but you’ve got to stay levelheaded,” Warney said. “I was just trying to get accustomed to what the coach on my team wanted us to do and trying to get comfortable with the players around me. It was a shock. Over the last four years, I’ve consistently been one of the best players in the country. It was more me than what people were doing to me.”
Despite not playing his best, Warney was invited to work out for Boston, Milwaukee, Washington, Atlanta and Dallas. In his estimation, Warney’s best workouts were with the Wizards and Mavericks because he shot the ball well, but he generally received a positive response.
“All the teams I worked out with told my agent my strengths are really good and they see improvement in the weaknesses,” Warney said. “They always talk about my motor and how relentless I am on the glass. They can see how hard a worker I am.”
Green also was happy with his performance for the Knicks. “Basically, we learned the triangle offense and we played two-on-two out of the triangle offense,” Green said, referring to the set favored by team president Phil Jackson. “My agent said they said some good things. I think I had a pretty good workout.”
One number working against Warney is that he is 6-8 in shoes, which is on the small side for a power forward, but he said his 7-1 wingspan will help him compensate.
“The good thing is there are a lot of smaller power forwards in the league now,” Warney said. “I’m short for the power forward position, but I have long arms. The NBA looks for wingspan. All you need is one team to love you.”
Both players believe their prospects are good to at least land with an NBA summer league team if they don’t get drafted and then possibly earn a training camp invitation with their performances. As four-year college players, their maturity should benefit Warney and Green.
No matter what happens with the NBA, Warney and Green are confident they at least will be able to make a living playing basketball overseas. “My agent has gotten interest from different leagues,” Green said. We’re just waiting on the NBA stuff, and if that doesn’t pan out, we’ve got to see what kind of contract I’m going to have to go overseas.”
Warney described overseas play as his Plan B, noting that it still is a lucrative alternative. “I could make a lot of money overseas,” Warney said. “At the end of the day, basketball is going to be a career for me, and I can make money off it either way and keep on delaying my second life.”