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T.J. Warren's Having A Great Season

The State sophomore is leading the Pack to unexpected success

T.J. Warren's rise to prominence has been a slam dunk for State
T.J. Warren's rise to prominence has been a slam dunk for State
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

T.J. Warren plays for a team that draws modest attention, and didn't figure to deserve better in 2014. As a result, most of the basketball world hasn't caught on yet to just how good he is.

N.C. State basketball wasn't expected to do much of note this season on either the men's or women's side. In part this reflected a hangover from 2013, when the men were picked to lead the conference and didn't come close.

The Wolfpack's disappointing performance, followed by a mass exodus of starters, left scant experience on the roster and reduced anticipation of success. Media savants congregated at Charlotte this past October picked the Pack to finish 10th among 15 ACC men's programs. Later a so-called "blue ribbon panel" predicted the same landing spot for the women.

Underwhelming expectations may ultimately prove appropriate. But through 13 games in 2013 the Pack men and women were both pleasant surprises - Mark Gottfried's club is 11-3 and Wes Moore's contingent is 13-1.

Warren, the only returning starter from last season, is the backbone of his team's success.

The slimmed-down sophomore is, like Duke's similarly sized Jabari Parker, a mobile forward with good ballhandling skills, a polished shot, and an instinctive offensive game. In fact, one of the more intriguing matchups of '14 will occur when the pair meet at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Jan. 18.

Warren and Parker pace their respective squads in both scoring and rebounding. There's a major difference in their presence on the boards, however.

Parker is third in the ACC in defensive rebounds with a 6.1 average, but doesn't appear among the league's offensive rebounding leaders. Warren, on the other hand, isn't among the defensive leaders but stands second in offensive boards, his 3.2 per game a shade behind Miami's Donnavan Kirk.

Those offensive rebounds make Warren not only unusually productive but a constant threat to score. He's apt to pop up around the basket at odd moments to tap in an errant shot, or abruptly recover and repurpose a loose ball.

Add a soft touch, shooting range to the 3-point arc, and an uncanny knack simply for being in the right place at the right time, and through the end of calendar year 2013 Warren led the ACC in scoring with 23.9 points. He's also the official conference leader with 54.1 percent field goal accuracy.

The last N.C. State player to finish a season averaging more points than Warren was Rodney Monroe. The guard was good for an ACC-best 27.0 per game in 1990. The last Wolfpacker to pace the league in scoring was center Todd Fuller, who averaged 20.9 points in 1996.

Among teams in the ACC for more than a decade, only two of nine have gone longer than N.C. State without supplying the conference's top scorer. Of the most recent leaders by school, only Fuller and UNC's Tyler Hansbrough played exclusively inside.

Last Player To Lead ACC In Scoring, By School
(Includes Teams In League Prior To 2005)

School Year Player Avg. Leaders
Clemson 2000 Will Solomon 20.9 5
Duke 2011 Nolan Smith 20.6 11
Florida State 2009 Toney Douglas 21.5 3
Georgia Tech 1990 Dennis Scott 27.7 2
Maryland 2012 Terrell Stoglin 21.6 6
No. Carolina 2008 Tyler Hansbrough 22.6 11
N.C. State 1996 Todd Fuller 20.9 8
Virginia 1978 Jeff Lamp 22.9 4
Wake Forest 2003 Josh Howard 19.5 7