Hoops Recruiting: OSU Targets Texas Guard

Even though Oklahoma State would like to sign at least one more basketball player to join next season's team, that doesn't mean the Cowboy coaching staff hasn't been looking ahead. One of the top prospects in the nation for 2008 was in Stillwater for Tuesday night's victory over Kansas State, and GoPokes.com visited with him Wednesday about the trip and his impressions of Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Willie Warren, a 6-4, 190-pound guard from North Crowley High School in Fort Worth who is rated as the 26th-best prospect for 2008 by Scout.com, made an unofficial visit to Oklahoma State for the Cowboys' game against the Wildcats. He made the trip to Stillwater with North Crowley teammate T.J. Franklin, and Franklin's dad.

"It was awesome," said Warren, who averaged 24 points and nearly five assists this past season as a junior. "It was a nice environment. I kept telling myself that I wonder what it would have been like if they were playing a bigger team, maybe Texas or Texas A&M, instead of Kansas State. I can't even think about what that would have been like."

North Crowley's season came to an abrupt end with a 62-58 playoff loss to El Paso Montwood this past weekend. But you can't blame Warren, who scored 38 points for the Panthers, who finished 29-6. "It's really hard to beat a team when they shoot 70 percent from the field and 94 percent from the free-throw line. They only missed 10 shots the whole game," Warren said.

Warren spent the first four years of his life in Oklahoma. His mother, Malaika Frazier, was a standout basketball player at Langston University, and Willie spent his first few years with her at college. Langston is about 15 minutes from Stillwater but Warren says his mother has never attended a basketball game at Oklahoma State. He had a message for her when he returned home early Wednesday morning following the game.

"I just told her she has to go to a game there. I told her there's no way I can describe the atmosphere and environment because she couldn't begin to understand what I was trying to say. I told her she needs to go, and I think she'll make it up for one next season," Warren said.

Warren says he was impressed with the friendliness of Cowboy fans. "I thought I'd have a few people come up and talk to me but it seemed like everybody knew who I was," he said. "I didn't expect for everyone to be so nice. It seemed like every five minutes someone was coming up and telling me they wanted me to come to Oklahoma State. There was this one dude, I don't know what his name was, but he played on the Final Four team, he sat beside me and talked to me the whole game."

Was there anything that Warren learned on his trip that surprised or impressed him about OSU? "No, not really. They have always been high on my list," said Warren, who also lists Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Arizona and Texas among his leaders. "Seeing them (play) and being a part of that atmosphere is going to make my decision that much harder. I love the style that they play and I think I could fit in real well there."

The standout guard remember meeting one person – other than the Cowboy coaching staff and players – during his visit to Stillwater. "I visited with the academic lady, but I forget her name," Warren said of Marilyn Middlebrook. "She was the one I probably talked to the most, and really liked. I love her."

Warren doesn't expect to make many trips to schools this summer because his schedule is nearly full. He has been invited to the USA Junior Olympic camp in Colorado Springs, the Kobe Bryant camp, the LeBron James camp, and plans to play with the Team Texas AAU team that he has been a member of since fourth grade.

The April issue of Go Pokes Magazine includes a feature story on Warren, and how he is already one of the most prolific scorers in North Crowley High School basketball history. To subscribe call 1-888-501-5752.

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