The Lone Freshman: Josh Warren
After the school decided not to renew former men’s basketball head coach Bill Courtney’s contract following the 2015-16 season, all of Cornell’s 2020 recruits decommitted from joining the Red in Ithaca. Except for one: Josh Warren.
Just one month after Courtney’s release, Cornell hired Princeton assistant coach Brian Earl, but Warren’s commitment never wavered. He just focused on improving his skills, and ultimately donning a Cornell uniform no matter who was coaching the team.
“It wasn’t really what I was expecting coming in,” Warren said. “I obviously thought that I was going to be playing under coach Courtney for my four years here, but I just had to trust what coach Earl is putting in place now, so I am just trying to help the program as much as I can, and I think this situation has worked out well so far.”
After averaging over 15 points per game in each of his final two years of high school, Earl expected Warren to contribute, but probably not substantially in his first season in college, especially since this year’s rendition of the team returned approximately 97% of its minutes and the top 10 scorers from last season’s team.
“There is absolutely a transition process with a new head coach, and especially for me, being the youngest guy coming in, but I think that it went well, and we are definitely on the right path moving forward,” Warren said.
However, Warren surprised everyone early, and after the first three games of the season, he was already averaging six points and six rebounds.
“Adjusting to coach Earl’s style was definitely rough at the beginning, but I think that I fit in pretty well to the mold that he wants me to be,” Warren said, “so there is still a lot of learning left for me to do, but I am figuring it out.”
By season’s end, Warren ended up playing in all 29 of the Red’s contests, and averaged 5.6 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. He was also extremely efficient from the field, shooting an outstanding 52.3%, and actually ended the year averaging the sixth most points on the team.
While those numbers aren’t exactly gaudy, he was a staple in the frontcourt, and played far beyond his years at times. At some moments, he was a steady contributor that Earl could rely on for rebounds and to score if the Red needed a lift offensively.
Earl even ended up trusting Warren so much that he started the lone neophyte on the roster in two Ivy League games. And the freshman did not disappoint his first-year head coach in those games, posting six points and six rebounds against Dartmouth and 11 points at Harvard the following night.
“It was definitely exciting, because I know that I have a long way to go before I am what I want to be, so having this kind of positive reinforcement early on has given me a lot of confidence moving forward,” Warren said.
Next year, Warren is expected to make a large jump contribution-wise, and potentially be a starter, as Cornell is going to lose two of its top five starters from the 2016-2017 team.
In just his second year on the team, Warren will be looked upon to lead a star-studded incoming freshman class, headlined by Terrance McBride and Jimmy Boehim, the son of Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boehim.