Warren: "This Community Made Me"

RALEIGH, N.C. -- With an exciting opportunity ahead of him as he enters his second season in the NBA, T.J. Warren still has time to return to a place that will never leave his heart.

With an exciting opportunity ahead of him as he enters his second season in the NBA, T.J. Warren still has time to return to a place that will never leave his heart.

Tonight at 7 p.m. the 2014 ACC Player of the Year and second-year player for the Phoenix Suns will be participating in a charity all-star game at Broughton High School, along with NC State legend Chris Corchiani and several others, to benefit the J.D. Lewis Center. The basketball game, along with the Family Festival which begins the event at 1 p.m., is a part of the B.A.G.S. Foundation which is dedicated to raising awareness for Southeast Raleigh.

Its credo is “Building a stronger Raleigh together.”

Warren is coming off a rookie season where he started injured, bounced back and forth from Phoenix and the NBA Developmental League, and ultimately picked up steam as the campaign progressed towards the end.

Back in December, many NC State fans made the trip to Madison Square Garden not only to watch NC State battle West Virginia but also with hopes of watching Warren battle the New York Knicks earlier in the day. The then-rookie did not make an appearance in the game as it was part of a trend early in the season during the acclimation process.

Despite the early struggles, Warren was never deterred and knew he made the correct decision to forego his final two seasons at NC State.

“All young players go through it,” he said of the uneven beginning to his professional career. “This past year I played through it and a lot of guys this year, they are going to go through it. A lot of teams utilize the D-League. It is not a big deal. The D-League might sound bad but it is for our development.”

“It is all part of the process,” Warren added. "A lot of guys go through it, especially on a playoff contending team. I knew where I belonged and that’s the NBA.”

He did receive more playing time as the season progressed and Warren showed improvement. After only reaching double-figures scoring twice in the first four months of the season, he scored at least 10 points seven times in the final 17 contests.

With several offseason moves sending players elsewhere, along with Warren averaging almost 19 points per game in the Summer League, he is looking for more during his second season.

“I just want to go into next year with the momentum I had at the end of last year and continue to get better,” Warren said. “Just learning the defensive schemes and all the little things. Being a rookie it is tough so you have just got to put in the work. I feel like it is right there for me to get. I just have to be patient and keep working.”

“I am still working towards that,” Warren said of a potential starting position in 2015-16. “Obviously, the roster changes make my situation a lot better. I am going in there in our training camp and working hard and then seeing what happens in the future.”

His career high of 18 points came against Oklahoma City on March 29th. Prior to declaring for the draft, Warren listed the Thunder as his favorite team and Kevin Durant the player he liked watching the most. He even got to battle his former hero a few times during the game.

“I definitely got to guard Kevin Durant,” Warren recalled. “It was a dream come true. He got the best of me, obviously. It was good to be in front of him. I feel like this year it is not going to phase me anymore. I am going to look at him as competition and just go right at him.”

Overall, despite the uneven nature of his rookie campaign, Warren is happy to be in Phoenix and thinks his future in the Arizona desert is bright.

“It is fun,” Warren said. “I am enjoying it a lot. There is a lot of different scenery. I am still getting used to the west coast, but it has been a good adjustment. Just putting on that uniform is a real feeling to me and being at that level. It is a blessing.”

The bright future is not exclusive to his professional career. Warren, who took a class over the summer, sees better days ahead for NC State and the Triangle. He is willing to do what he can to help out.

“I see a bright future for those guys,” Warren said of NC State. “Coach Gottfried and that group is doing a tremendous job recruiting, and they have got my support 100 percent. I am looking forward to seeing them go further in the tournament in the years to come.”

“I felt like it was a great opportunity to give back and just show my face in a community that I grew up in,” Warren added of the Family Festival at Broughton on Saturday. “I am looking forward to seeing it grow. This community made me. I just want to give back as much as I can.”

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