WOLFEBORO, N.H.---Tar Heel Illustrated had an opportunity this past week to conduct an extensive interview with UNC basketball recruiting target T.J. Warren at his open gym at Brewster Academy.
Warren has narrowed his choices of colleges down to five programs, and says he'll make five official visits before making his decision sometime around the Holidays.
What are your thoughts about being at Brewster Academy, and the team you're playing with?
It's good to be here. It's a great community. Everyone is nice. I'm having a new start up here, just getting used to everything.
There's obviously a lot of talent on this team. What's it like?
It's good going against this every day in practice, just competing with some of the top players in the country, and I'm just trying to get better every day I'm here.
I know it probably wasn't easy to leave North Carolina, but do you feel that this was the best move for your basketball career?
This is the best situation for me. It will prepare me for college on the court and in the classroom. It's a great academic school here. The teachers, they care for you a lot here.
During the scrimmage you started off cool in the beginning but got really hot out there. You were feeling it!
I turned it up on them and showed them that I'm still here.
Where are you in regards to your decision? I know it's something a lot of people want to know about, but where are you at?
Right now I'm just taking it slow, going through the process. I'll make a decision when it feels right. I just want to take all five officials and get all the information on each school that I can.
What five schools are you visiting?
The five schools I'm visiting are UNC, N.C. State, Florida, Georgetown, and Kentucky.
Would you mind breaking down those schools, starting with North Carolina?
They have great tradition, and Roy Williams is a great coach. He knows what he's doing. It's just a great school overall.
And your thoughts about N.C. State?
My dad played there. I'm real familiar with the school. I actually grew up an N.C. State fan because of my dad. Great school, great staff. I just want to see how they handle this season with the new staff.
And your thoughts on Kentucky?
I like John Calipari's style of play. He lets his players play. They play people in space and just get over mistakes and get over the hump.
Florida, could you talk about them?
Coach Billy Donovan, he's been recruiting me since my freshman year of high school. So I'm real familiar with that problem. It's a blessing to be recruited by them. Just the players they've had in the past---Cory Brewer, Mike Miller---great players. It's a good program for me.
We spoke to your dad recently, and he said you're really big on playing the 'three' position?
Yeah, I'm getting recruited to play the 'three,' and that's what I want to do. But if I have a mismatch problem, I'll take him (the opponent) down to the post too. So wherever I can score.
Tell us about the conversation you had with Roy Williams when he came to visit your school.....
The conversation, he was telling me he wanted me to come in and score the basketball to the best of my ability---and that's what I do---and playing full court. It's a good opportunity for me to get better and compete, like here (at Brewster), with a bunch of good players.
Did he try to close you (as a commitment)?
Is there anything that works against North Carolina?
Not really. Just whatever is the best situation for me, then I'll go there. But if there's a better opportunity for me, I'll take it there (elsewhere).
What kind of opportunity would Carolina have to present to you?
Basically if I'm feeling it. If I want to go to that school, I'll just go. But if there's something in me that has questions about it or whatever, I might take a look elsewhere.
You really want to play the 'three' and not be 'stuck in the post.' Did you talk about that with Coach Williams?
Yeah, I talked about it (with Williams). He knows about it. I'm an 'inside-out' player. I prefer to be on the wing and having the freedom to do what I do to put the ball in the basket I just don't want to be limited (with my) back to the basket.
And how did Coach Williams make you feel about that?
He just told me he knows that I'm not a post player. He just wants me to score---that's all he wants me to do. But if I have a smaller defender obviously I'm going to take it in and try to score the easiest way I can.
How do you feel about defending the post? Maybe like a 'three' on offense and a 'four' on defense?
Yeah, that would be cool too. I can defend the post real well. I've got to work on not fouling and playing strong.
What do you have to do to get better in the game of basketball?
Just try to get more in shape and just keep working on my overall game basically. Shooting every day, running. That's why I came here to this great facility.
As a North Carolina native, is there any incentive to return home?
I don't really worry about location. If it's the right thing for my family and me, then that's what I'm going to do.
You got a chance to play a lot of elite basketball this summer. Where are some of the areas that you felt you really developed?
I feel like I dominated the summer trying to go out there and compete and try to show everybody that I'm T.J. Warren and I'm trying to be the best I can be.
For somebody that maybe hasn't seen you play a lot, what are the things that you would say are the things you do best on the basketball court?
I'm just a playmaker, scorer, feed my team the ball, and score the ball (myself).
We know you want to play the 'three,' but is there a certain style of play that you kind of think you'd fit best in?
Just a style for me to just get out and do my thing. When I get the ball I just want to be free to be myself, T.J.
Have you scheduled any official visits that you know of so far?
I've scheduled Kentucky for Midnight Madness. That's the only one I've scheduled. My parents, I'm going to talk to them and get some (additional) visits set up.
You dad said you might commit around Christmas. Is that kind of what you're thinking at this point?
Yeah, I just want to see how everybody plays and see how everything goes through at the beginning of the college season.