Jameel Warney’s historic journey from Lion to Maverick included a stop at the World’s Most Famous Arena.
Warney is believed to have become the first Roselle Catholic High School graduate to play in an NBA game when he scored five points for the Dallas Mavericks in the Mavs’ 105-82 loss to the Houston Rockets on March 11, the day he signed a 10-day contract with the NBA organization.
Two days later, Warney (6-foot-8, 260) scored a career-high eight points in 12 minutes of action in Dallas’ 110-97 win against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. He sported number 32 on the black “DAL” jersey the Mavericks wore at Madison Square Garden.
Warney, who shot 4-for-7 from the field at MSG, also pulled down three rebounds vs. the Knicks. NBA veteran Harrison Barnes poured in a game-high 30 points vs. the Knicks and future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki — “he’s a living legend,” Warney said – sank three three-point field goals and 13 points vs. New York.
After Warney’s third career game at Madison Square Garden (he played twice for Stony Brook University and current Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell at MSG), he was told at least 20 members of the RC community from his time as a student traveled from New Jersey to Penn Station to watch his second NBA game.
“I definitely thought a lot about the people who helped get me here and the people who helped get me to Roselle Catholic,” Warney said the day after the Dallas Mavs’ triumph.
“I didn’t want to go to Plainfield High School, which wasn’t a good place to be at that time,” Warney said. “Roselle Catholic offered a very good education and was going to prepare me well for my future. It’s a great thing that I went to RC and met a lot of great people there.”
Warney scored 1,968 points in high school – more than any other player while wearing a Roselle Catholic uniform.
The Lions and coach Dave Boff won two division titles (Valley and Mountain) with Warney leading the way. In 2012, RC reached the Union County Tournament championship game (where it lost to Plainfield) for the first time since 1963. In the triumphant UCT semifinal, Warney registered 32 points, 13 rebounds and six blocked shots against St. Patrick’s.
“The RC community embraced me, going back to the time I was an immature freshman,” Warney said. “And 11 years later, RC people are coming to watch me in an NBA game. I’m happy so many people showed up that I met along the way at Roselle Catholic. I’m proud to be the first from RC to play in an NBA game. I always wanted to do that.”
Warney scored four points in seven minutes in the Mavericks’ 122-115 loss at the Toronto Raptors on March 16. Warney didn’t get off the bench during the final two games of his 10-day contract, at the Brooklyn Nets and the New Orleans Pelicans.
“My goal is to be great every day, to let the Dallas Mavericks know I’m a good teammate,” Warney said. “I’m somebody who can provide energy and somebody who’s interested in getting better every day.
“It was great to finally get the call-up. I just have to keep at the grind and keep working to make a permanent home in the NBA. I have to keep getting better.”
After Warney’s 10-day contract expired, he returned to the Texas Legends, the Mavericks’ affiliate in the G League.
Warney registered 28 points, including shooting 3-for-5 from behind the three-point line, and 14 rebounds in the Legends’ season-ending, 107-100, playoff loss to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers on March 30. It was Warney’s 23rd double-double of the G League season for the Legends, who won a franchise-record 29 games this season. The playoff setback ended an incredible stretch on the hardwood for Warney.
USA Basketball bestowed its Male Athlete of the Year Award (2017) was upon Warney in recognition of his MVP performance while helping lead USA Basketball to a gold medal at the FIBA AmeriCup 2017 and to two FIBA World Cup Qualifying wins in November.
At the AmeriCup, Warney averaged a team-high 8.6 rebounds to go with a team second-best 12.8 points in an average of 21.0 minutes per game while coming into the games off of the U.S. bench. He shot 64.9 percent from the field and was named MVP of the 12-team tournament.
“He always played his best when his best was needed, and that is one of the best things you can say about any athlete,” ESPN color commentator and former Knicks’ coach Jeff Van Gundy, USA head coach for both of Warney’s USA teams, said in a press release announcing the recognition. “When you need their best, they deliver their best. That is what Jameel has done.”
Warney made two well-received appearances at Roselle Catholic last summer. Warney spoke (and dunked) in The Lions’ Den during RC Basketball Camp before being interviewed by middle school students at Write on Sports Camp at Roselle Catholic.
Malachi Richardson of the Toronto Raptors (and formerly the Sacramento Kings) was a key contributor on Roselle Catholic’s first Tournament of Champions winner in 2013. Richardson spent one season at Roselle Catholic before returning and graduating from Trenton Catholic Academy in Mercer County.