A record that even McDowell couldn’t do, is it possible for Warney?
Will Jameel Warney (29, 199.8cm) be able to wear the Seoul SK uniform next season? If he continues to accompany him, he alone will become KBL’s first record.
Warney showed the performance of KBL’s best foreign player in the 2022-2023 season championship match against Anyang KGC, which recently ended. He overcame the sluggishness in the 2nd and 3rd games and played an active role with an average of 19.9 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 7 games. In Game 6, he scored 31 points, his most in an individual championship match. Although SK stayed in the runner-up, in the 7th game of the championship match held in 14 seasons, it played a famous match against KGC and presented the essence of spring basketball to basketball fans.
Warney said, “It would have been better if we had won, but all SK players, including me, did their best. I sincerely thank the fans who sent a lot of support. I think I had the most enjoyable season with the fans.”
The story created by SK and KGC also drew attention. The two teams faced each other in last season’s championship match and the final of the EASL Invitational Tournament. During the two seasons, he has emerged as a new rival by playing 25 official matches. Warney said, “We know each other too well. It was a championship game where both teams showed everything they had.”
Warney showed his fighting spirit with a knee injury. Leon Williams left the country on the 9th, but Warney boarded the plane on the 11th after taking two more days of rest. “There is no big problem. We plan to start rehabilitation when we return to the United States,” Warney explains.
Warney debuted in the 2019-2020 season and played for 4 consecutive seasons in SK, reigning as the best foreign player in KBL. He had a difficult season in his second year due to personal issues, but recently showed off his strength by winning the Foreign Player Award for the second consecutive season. He won the foreign player award three times in his career, and is tied for first place with Johnny McDowell and La Gun-ah for the most awards. If he wins the Foreign Player Award in his next season, he will rise to the top of the list for the 2nd consecutive season after McDowell and the most awarded.
McDowell is a foreign player who can be counted first when discussing the genealogy of long-lived foreign players. He played for Daejeon Hyundai (now Jeonju KCC) for four consecutive seasons from the 1997-1998 season, and played for seven consecutive seasons at KBL before being kicked out of Ulsan Mobis (now Hyundai Mobis) in the middle of the 2003-2004 season.
Although he led the KBL foreign player trend in the early days of his debut, Hyundai ended its relationship with McDowell after the end of the안전놀이터 2000-2001 season when he failed to advance to the semifinals. McDowell was still active as a top-notch foreign player, but he decided that a change was necessary to rebuild the famous family.
Ricardo Powell was one of the foreign players who played for the same team for five consecutive seasons. Powell wore the Incheon Etland (now Daegu Korea Gas Corporation) uniform for five consecutive seasons, from the 2008-2009 season, his debut season at KBL, to the 2015-2016 season, when he was traded from KCC during the season.
However, Powell headed to the G League to challenge the NBA after the 2008-2009 season, and returned to E-Land in the 2012-2013 season after a hiatus of three seasons. There is still no foreign player who has played for the same team for 5 consecutive seasons without a break.
Although it is reserved for Laguna to play for KCC for 5 consecutive seasons, Laguna is active in KBL after going through a special naturalization draft as a special naturalized status. Excluding foreign players who are playing through exceptions, Warney is challenging the first record that even McDowell could not set.
As much as it still showed its competitiveness, SK is highly likely to push for renewal of the contract with Warney. An SK official said, “Both Warney and Williams are considering renewing their contracts. Not only domestic players, but also Warney is highly satisfied with working with Williams.” Warney expressed a cautious stance on whether to return to SK, saying, “We are reviewing it positively.”
When it comes to SK, the first foreign player that comes to mind is Aaron Haynes, but maybe Warney will become a legend beyond Haines in the future. Will the partnership between SK and Warney continue into the next season?