Let’s walk away from the temptation of taking up time and precious space talking about the ACC/Big Ten matchup between No. 3 Michigan and No. 18 NC State, even though this post, in part, is a result of that matchup. It was a tough game for both teams, and the fan blogs will be overwhelmed by the ending and whether CJ Leslie really deserved that offensive charge. No tight game ever escapes such debates. This post is about NC State’s freshman forward, TJ Warren.
However, it was mildly surprising when reading over the stats of the game we find that the young TJ Warren had put up 18 points and 4 rebounds. Eighteen points in a single game against a ranked Big Ten team may not mean much, but what I have come to realize is that TJ Warren is a weapon for the Wolfpack in the many games to come this season. This is why.
Six games into the season, TJ Warren is averaging 14.8 points per game, 3.8 rebounds per game, 68.1% on field goals, and 50% on three-point shots. His highest point output so far has been 22 pts against Penn State, followed by 21 against UMASS, and 18 tonight against No. 3 Michigan. So, why is this surprising? Could this be the beginning of something special for the Pack?
Going into this season, two names were in the spotlight for the preseason No. 6 NC State Wolfpack: guard Lorenzo Brown, and power forward CJ Leslie. Not exactly TJ Warren. Among the McDonald’s All-American that NC State had picked up in the off-season, it was shooting guard Rodney Purvis (Raleigh, NC) who was expected to be NC State’s fellow high-scorer alongside Scott Wood (#15) and CJ Leslie (#5), not TJ Warren.
Now, don’t get me wrong. TJ Warren was a 5-star All-American coming into the season. Much was expected out of the three All-Americans that the Wolfpack were adding to their arsenal of experience and talent. This is very true. But what was never expected was that the ACC title hopes of the Wolfpack would rest in the hands of TJ Warren. In the midst of a rocky beginning to the basketball season, NC State fans should feel blessed that TJ Warren has stepped up where others have been measure and found lacking.
TJ Warren is not the perfect player. He is averaging 50% on 3-pointers and 38.9% on free throws. Oh well, so much for our hunt for the perfect college basketball player. But in all seriousness, the Pack should expect very good things from this young man. In a team that is unfortunately prone to being unpredictable, TJ Warren has risen to lead the pack. The only questions that remain are whether he will be able to help others rise with him and whether that will be enough to fulfill the hopes of the North Carolina State Wolfpack.