Over the course of his four years at Stony Brook University, forward Jameel Warney has stated his case as perhaps the greatest player in America East Conference history.
This year, the Seawolves made their claim as the best team in school history, tying the 2011-12 and 2012-13 teams with a 14-2 regular season conference record, helped by an 18 game winning streak – the longest in the nation -- and earned votes in several weekly AP Top 25 polls, with Warney being the main reason. The conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year averaged a personal-best 18.7 PPG while grabbing 10.2 RPG and blocking more than three shots per contest; he also set personal bests shooting 62.7% from the floor and 62.9% from the foul line.
He’s the 3rd player in the 37 year history of the conference to win the Player of the Year Award three times -- joining Northeastern’s Reggie Lewis (1986-88) and Vermont’s Taylor Coppenrath (2003-05), he’s the 3rd player in conference history to record 2,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds – joining Drexel’s Malik Rose and Boston University’s Tunji Awojobi -- , and he’s won the conference’s Player of the Week Award 16 times over the last three seasons, breaking the previous record held by Coppenrath.
What prevents Warney from being a more definitive choice as the conference’s greatest player ever has been his inability to lead his teams to a Conference Tournament Championship and an NCAA Tournament berth, something Lewis and Coppenrath did every season they won the Player of the Year Award. In fact, of the four additional players to take home Player of the Year honors on multiple occasions -- Rose, Hofstra’s Speedy Claxton, Albany’s Jamar Wilson, and Vermont’s Marqus Blakely – all four players led their teams to at least one Conference Tournament Championship/NCAA Tournament appearance.
Stony Brook is the #1 seed with home court advantage throughout the America East Tournament, but neither the top seed or home court advantage have resulted in Stony Brook success in Warney’s previous three conference tournaments.
In Warney’s freshman year, the top-seeded Seawolves lost in the semi-finals to the four seed Albany on a game-winning layup by Mike Black with less than three seconds remaining. The next year, hosting the tournament final, Stony Brook made just 28.1% of their shots in the 2nd half and again fell to Albany. Last year, despite being the lower seed and playing the conference title game on the road against Albany, Stony Brook led for the entirety of the 2nd half -- including a seven-point lead with less than two minutes to play – right up until Peter Hooley knocked down a three with 1.6 seconds to go to hand Stony Brook their latest – and most painful – heartbreak. Warney’s averages in those three games? 14 points and 9.3 rebounds, highlighted by a 20 & 14 performance last year.
Jameel Warney has seen the top of the mountain that is "greatest player in America East history," but has fallen each time he’s gotten closer and closer without ever reaching the peak. That peak is still right at Warney's fingertips; he just needs to grab a hold of it before his last chance at an NCAA Tournament berth slips through.