Warney, Stony Brook’s ‘Beast,’ Awaits UK
DES MOINES, Iowa – Isaiah Briscoe and Jameel Warney share a high-school alma mater, Roselle Catholic.
Naturally, Briscoe has been asked often to describe the game of the star big man who has led his Stony Brook team to its first NCAA Tournament berth.
“He’s a beast,” Briscoe said. “He’s dominant down low. He’s actually the second-leading scorer in school history at our school.”
Briscoe is three years Warney’s junior and the two never were on a team together, but they did play pickup games. Warney also followed along as Briscoe surpassed him on the Roselle Catholic all-time scoring list.
“I have the utmost respect for him,” Warney said. “He brought the team to another level, him winning a state championship there. I admire what he did for our school and we have a mutual respect for each other.”
A senior, Warney is a sturdily built 6-foot-8, 260-pounder. He leads the team in both scoring (19.8 points per game) and rebounding (10.7 per game), and has scored more than 2,000 points and pulled down more than 1,000 rebounds in his impressive career. Perhaps not surprisingly based on his numbers and Briscoe’s description, Warner has three times been named America East Conference Player of the Year.
“I just stay in my lane, just stay to my strength,” Warney said. “I don't tend to my weaknesses, because I'm good at what I do.”
That mentality fits perfectly with what one Wildcat who will have to contend with Warney had to say about him. Marcus Lee called his game “old school.”
“He just doesn’t have that flare that everybody else has, which is good,” Lee said. “He just gets things done and that’s it, period. That’s kind of the stuff that makes him really good.”
Warney blew up for 43 points and 10 rebounds in the America East championship game, a performance John Calipari happened to catch on TV as he waited for UK’s game against Georgia on Saturday. With a tournament bid on the line, Warney responded from a pregame directive from his coach and scored a career high.
“Jameel is a unique player and he's seen every defense known to man,” Pikiell said. “He's a very good passer, and this wasn't the game to be an assist guy, he needed to score points and felt like we had an advantage there and our guys did a great job of getting him the ball.”
The fourth-seeded Cats (26-8) have studied tape in advance of their matchup with No. 13-seed Stony Brook (26-6), which will tip at approx. 9:40 p.m. ET on Thursday. As you would expect, Warney has figured prominently into any and all game-planning.
“I think today our game plan was pretty clear about what we wanted to do for tomorrow’s game,” Briscoe said. “We know that he’s a great player and we’re just going to try to contain him as best as we can.”
The Seawolves have grown accustomed to opponents zeroing in on Warney and capitalizing on the opportunities that creates. Three of his teammates average double figures in scoring, headlined by guard Carson Puriefoy.
“We always have confidence in Jameel,” Puriefoy said. “He's one of the best players in the country and it's comforting to know we can throw the ball in and he can get it done inside. We know that Kentucky is going to try to take him away first and foremost and that opens up a bunch of lanes for us to try and get ourselves going.”
While limiting Warney might be priority No. 1, the Cats have watched the NCAA Tournament before. They know to expect the unexpected in March.
“Maybe tomorrow the kid we wouldn’t even think would go off and he goes off,” Derek Willis said. “It’s just how this tournament goes. Stuff like that happens every year.”