Former Stony Brook star Jameel Warney invested three G League seasons in the pursuit of his NBA dream, but the payoff was one 10-day contract and three NBA games with the Mavericks two seasons ago. With no solid NBA prospects on his immediate horizon, Warney invested in his future by signing a far more lucrative one-year deal to play for the Seoul Knights of the Korean Basketball League next season.
Warney confirmed the move in an interview with Newsday on Wednesday, saying, “Obviously, I wasn’t going to make an NBA roster, so the next step was seeing what is the best possible spot for me? Where would I be most happy? What is a better environment? What is the duration of the season? After I took all that into consideration, I felt playing in Korea would be the best next step for my career.”
Warney spent the first two seasons of his G League career with the Texas Legends, a Mavs farm club, before moving to the Westchester Knicks at midseason last year. Over that time, Warney averaged 18.1 points per game, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks. There was talk of an opportunity with the Knicks, but when it didn’t materialize, he decided it was time to move on at the age of 25.
“The G League is a great league,” Warney said. “A lot of guys improve, but I gave it three years of my life. As you get older and try to get ready for your future with a wife and kids and thinking about getting a house, you have to understand that, if I give it a good five years, I can set myself up.”
Players on two-way contracts in the G League can make up to $75,000 per year, but most on the G League roster get $35,000 per season. That will change dramatically for Warney in Korea.
“The last few years, it’s been pocket change and you can’t really do anything unless you’re saving every penny,” Warney said of the G League wage scale. “I will make more money in one month in Korea than I would make the whole year in G League. So, you can see my drift. It was a no-brainer.”
Warney had a brief experience playing pro basketball in China last season, but quickly returned home. He explored playing in Europe but liked the idea of a shorter eight-month season in Korea, where they play 54 regular-season games versus a 10-month commitment in Europe. His agent Sean Kennedy has had several clients who enjoyed their Korean experience, and Stony Brook’s all-time leading scorer is looking forward to the opportunity.
“If I just be myself and stay encouraging, I’ll have a good spot in Korea,” Warney said. “I’m focused on trying to help that team win a championship and then see what’s going on in the future.”