Updated (Friday, 10:15 a.m.) to reflect that T.J. Warren and David West will play in the all-star game.
T.J. Warren is excited about his NBA future with the Phoenix Suns but he hasn’t forgotten the people in Southeast Raleigh who helped him get there.
That’s why Warren, the former N.C. State star, will participate in a charity basketball game with David West and other area basketball notables Saturday night at Broughton High to help the “Building a Stronger Raleigh Together” campaign.
The game, and family festival, will benefit the J.D. Lewis Center, Passage Home and their collaborative nonprofit education and community service arm, The B.A.G.S. Foundation (Boys and Girls Succeeding).
Warren, the 2013-14 ACC player of the year, spent countless hours with the Garner Road Basketball Club, which runs the Lewis Center near downtown Raleigh.
“It’s a great opportunity to give back and help the community that helped me,” Warren said.
Warren and West, who has been Warren’s mentor since Warren started playing for Garner Road when he was 11, will square off in the all-star game, which starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 and all proceeds benefit the Stronger Raleigh campaign and their fight to break the poverty cycle in Southeast Raleigh.
Warren, West and the players in the game will be available for autographs and pictures. Chris Corchiani, Julian Gamble, Darius Johnson-Odom, Poobie Chapman and James Mays are scheduled to play.
Warren has been busy this summer. He took a class at N.C. State during the first summer school session and has been working out at the Wolfpack’s practice facility.
“We might as well have a cot for him at the gym,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “He lives at the Dail Center.”
Warren, a 6-foot-8 small forward, averaged 15.4 minutes, 6.1 points and 2.1 rebounds in 40 games as a rookie with the Suns. His minutes went up in the final two months of the season and so did his scoring. He averaged 20.5 minutes in 20 games in March and April and 7.9 points.
“I’m glad he got the opportunity to play more,” Gottfried said. “He proved that he has a chance to be a star in that league.”
Warren left N.C. State after an incredible sophomore season when led the ACC with 24.9 points per game and broke David Thompson’s single-season school scoring record. He was N.C. State’s first lottery pick since 1996 but started the season between the Suns’ bench and the NBA Developmental League.
Warren said the biggest adjustment was on defense. He remained patient for his chance, even during his stint in the D-League.
“It’s just part of the process,” Warren said. “It might sound bad, but it’s all development.”
Warren got his chance with the Suns and further helped his cause this year in the Las Vegas summer league. Warren led the Suns with 18.7 points per game in seven summer-league games, despite a hamstring injury.
“I want to take the momentum I had at the end of last year and just continue to get better,” Warren said.
With Warren’s late-season surge and summer-league performance, the Suns appear to have made more room for him with a series of roster moves – trading forwards Marcus Morris and former North Carolina standout Reggie Bullock and letting wing Gerald Green go in free agency.
Warren and NBA veteran P.J. Tucker, who’s from Raleigh, will be contending for a starting spot.
“I feel like it’s right there for me to get,” Warren said. “I just need to be patient and keep working.”
There’s more than a good cause at stake on Saturday between Warren and West, who went to Garner High and has spent the past 12 years in the NBA.
Warren has a perfect record against West, who signed as a free agent with San Antonio earlier in July to bolster the Spurs’ championship hopes. The Suns beat the Indiana Pacers, West’s former team, in both meetings last season and Warren owns a win in the only one-on-one game the two have ever played.
“It’s going to be fun,” Warren said.
Building a Stronger Raleigh All-Star Game
Where: Broughton High School.
When: 7 p.m., Saturday.
Note: There will be a free family festival with games, bounce houses and a rock-climbing wall from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m..