Willie Warren said his decision to leave Oklahoma wasn’t an easy one, but he felt he was ready to play at the next level.
“This was a stressful decision and one that I’ve been stuck in the middle for a little while,” Warren said in a statement released by OU Thursday. “I didn’t like how things went this year with my injury and everything, but I also feel like I have the skills to take the next step.”
The announcement came a day after The Transcript, and several other media outlets, reported Warren had decided against returning to OU for his junior season.
It was a decision Warren had been contemplating for over a month.
The 6-foot-3 guard missed the Sooners’ final six games due to an ankle injury and had arthroscopic surgery on March 3. He said at that time that the injury would be the biggest factor in whether or not to return to school.
OU coach Jeff Capel believes Warren is ready to be a pro.
“I’m very happy for Willie and definitely think he’s ready for the next level,” Capel said. “I appreciate everything he’s done for our program and look forward to watching another Sooner in the NBA.”
Warren averaged a team-high 16.3 points per game this past season, but missed 10 games due to the ankle injury and illness.
His sophomore season, in which OU went 13-18, wasn’t viewed as much of a encore to Warren’s freshman season when he averaged 14.6 points and the Sooners advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight with a 30-6 record.
“My freshman year I felt like I made some big contributions and I was somewhat satisfied,” said Warren. “I feel like I could have scored more, but I understood the makeup of our team and it was a great feeling to make it all the way to the Elite Eight. My sophomore year was up and down and tough on all of us. It was a rollercoaster ride, especially for me with my ankle injury and being sick.
“But if I had to make my decision all over again, I would make the same one to attend OU. It was the best experience of my life and I want to thank all the Sooner fans who were behind me. My ankle is doing great and now it’s time to take the next step.”
Warren said he hasn’t signed with an agent yet, but expects to soon. If Warren doesn’t sign with an agent, he could still return to school.
John Shinn 366-3536 email@example.com