WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — The PA announcer introduced the Westchester Knicks’ starters for Saturday night’s G League game against Delaware. He had a new name on the list: “At forward, 6-foot-7, from Stony Brook, please welcome to Westchester, No. 34, Jameel Warney!”
Warney had been here at Westchester County Center before with the Texas Legends. But this Stony Brook legend, who left in 2016 as the program’s all-time leader in points, rebounds, blocks and games, was making his Westchester home debut.
Westchester acquired the power forward/center on Jan. 8 from the Legends, the Dallas Mavericks’ affiliate. Warney was in his third season with them since turning pro. That’s just one reason why the native of Plainfield, New Jersey, can view the trade in a favorable light.
“I’m in a better situation now,” Warney said before dominating inside with 27 points in Westchester’s 105-96 win. “Being in the same spot for three years, all of the people see you all the time. So I guess they already know what I can do. So it’s definitely a different set of eyes that can come see me. I’m closer to home now. I’m a big homebody guy.
“Life is all about having new experiences. It’s just another chapter in my life.”
The NBA passed on him in the 2016 draft, but the Mavericks finally brought him up on a 10-day deal last March. Warney played against Houston, the Knicks and Toronto. He scored eight points at Madison Square Garden and averaged nine minutes in his three games, along with 5.7 points and 3.0 rebounds. But the Mavs didn’t retain him and he returned to the G League.
“It was a good experience,” he said. “I’m grateful they gave me the opportunity to play for the team. It definitely made me a hungry guy to try to get back there.”
At the end of the Legends’ season, he was named first-team all-league after averaging 19.9 points and 9.6 rebounds. He also had been the USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year in 2017.
“I’m undersized, but at the end of the day, I’ve proved that I can play with the big guys,” said Warney, who offered that he’s 6-8 “on a good day” and 255 pounds. He also said, “I’m working on my range every day.”
Teammate John Jenkins was a 2012 first-round pick by Atlanta. The guard has played 145 NBA regular-season games. So is Warney an NBA-caliber player?
“For sure,” Jenkins said. “His ability to post up and be efficient doing it and his energy and toughness — all those qualities translate to the NBA.”
Warney’s new team played three games on the road after the trade, including one against his old team. Warney, who had averaged 13.7 points and 6.8 rebounds before the trade, scored 25 points against the Legends.
“He picks things up very quickly,” Westchester coach Mike Miller said. “He sees the game well. As much as anything, I think he really knows what he does well and he sticks with it.”
Warney can only hope an NBA team will give him a shot. “I’ve been auditioning for like the last three years,” he said. “All I can do is keep on staying ready and keep on playing well.”
He won’t wait forever. His 25th birthday is Jan. 31. “I think I’m focusing on the last few months, giving my all out, hoping that something good happens,” he said. “But if not, I talked to my agent about something new, maybe go overseas. So the next few months are crucial for me.”
But if you think he’s frustrated about still being in the G League, think again. “I’m not frustrated at all,” he said. “I could be having a desk job, a 9-to-5. I’m doing what I love. It is what it is. I wouldn’t wish anything else.”