NBA news: AmeriCup MVP Jameel Warney hopes to soon earn NBA contract
Jameel Warney has become the overnight sensation after providing Team USA with a rally punch to take down the always-threatening Argentina in the final game of the FIBA AmeriCup, tournament which served as an appetizer course for the United States before the qualifiers that take place in November.
Warney was named the tournament’s after scoring 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including seven rebounds, and a block; propelling Team USA from a 20-point deficit to an eventual 81-76 win over the Albiceleste.
A graduate of Stony Brook University, the 6-foot-8 big man is hopeful this appearance can make waves for netting a possible roster spot in the NBA after going undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft and consequently playing for Dallas Mavericks affiliate Texas Legends.
“It was a great experience to play in places like Uruguay and Argentina,” Warney told Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype. “Those fans are really passionate about their basketball and those environments were some of the biggest games of my 23 years.”
Warney previously played four games for the Dallas Mavericks in the Orlando Summer League, averaging 12 points, five rebounds, a steal, and a block per game along with five games for the L.A. Clippers in the Las Vegas Summer League, where he didn’t see very much playing time.
Yet the 23-year-old made his best impression this summer representing his country and playing against teams that have been able to jell together for years.
“I’ve learned a lot of the last few weeks from head coach Jeff Van Gundy and his coaching staff,” Warney said. “I’m definitely going to use this to my advantage and hopefully, I get a chance to play in the NBA soon.”
NBA front offices are now leaning toward picking younger players than stashing veteran talent, given the new two-way provision that will allow players to develop in the G League and be paid NBA rates when called up.
Teams like the Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, and the Phoenix Suns. The latter has drawn interest in players recently like Warney, as GM Ryan McDonough noted it may be a good fit, according to Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic.
“I think we will lean toward younger guys, with the mid-to-late 20s being the upper limit of what we’ll look at,” McDonough said. “Is there one guy out there who could be an exception to that? Maybe. But I think that will be the target of the initial process, somebody who fits with the timeline of our young core.”
This is hardly the first time that players have been scouted at the international level, but definitely a first in over three decades where they’ve looked into their very own Team USA after being comprised of NBA players since 1992.