Gottfried: "He's Earned It"

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Voting for the league awards is right around the corner, and Mark Gottfried wants it known that his star player, T.J. Warren, should take home the ACC's top honor.

Gottfried, who met with the media this afternoon, raved about T.J. Warren.

"I think it's a runaway myself," Gottfried replied when asked if Warren should be named ACC Player of the Year. "I think when you look at T.J. and what he's done this year, the most impressive thing is he's leading the league in scoring and also leads the league in field goal percentage. So, he's doing it at a very efficient rate.

"He's also had a very young team around him all year long where we haven't had the proven scorers and other teams have been able to key on him. He's seen more triangle-and-two, box-and-one... gimmick defenses, but he still does what he does."

The numbers certainly seem to favor Warren. He is on pace to be just the third player in ACC history to lead the league in scoring and field goal percentage, joining Tim Duncan and Horace Grant, and Warren would be the first wing to achieve the honor.

He currently leads the ACC in field goals made (279), field goal percentage (52.8%), scoring (24.2), offensive rebounds (91), and is the conference leader in Player Efficiency Rating (30.8). He ranks third in steals (1.8) and leads the league in steals in league play. He is also 10th in rebounds (6.9) and if he had attempted enough 3-pointers in league play his 35.8% from behind the 3-point line would rank 8th.

"I think he's earned it," said Gottfried. "The fact that he doesn't have a lot of experienced scorers around him, and teams have tried everything underneath the sun... he's seen every defense there is.

"I don't think anybody has done what he's done as efficiently. Field goal percentage, scoring, rebounding, steals... the list goes on and on."

Even with all of the impressive statistics, it's Warren's competitiveness that has stood out the most to Gottfried.

"He wants to win," Gottfried said. "When you watch T.J., he's trying to find ways to help his team win. A lot of times, that's scoring the ball. He's had a great year, and he's matured a lot from last year. Last year was somewhat chaotic for him as a freshman, and he's really grown up.

"He knows he needs to be very good every night for our team to have a chance. He's not a selfish guy... he's not hunting for his own points. There were times early in the year where he was feeling his way... as the year has gone on he's much different in that way."

"He's like an assassin at times," Gottfried added. "He's got that look in his eye that he's going to find a way to help our team. The greatest example was at Pittsburgh. That was an amazing performance."

Gottfried has coached several great players ove the years, and Warren reminds him of a couple he coached at UCLA.

"Don MacLean was a guy at UCLA when I was an assistant coach," said Gottfried. "He became the leading scorer in the history of UCLA and the Pac-10. Back then guys weren't leaving... they were four-year players. He was such a great shooter at 6'10.

"Tracy Murray was another player we had at UCLA that was similar [to Warren], but I think T.J. is a cut-above. I've been around good players and he's as good as any I've been around, and he's only a sophomore.

"That's the thing about it that's amazing. He's a young player."

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