The Seoul SK Knights are among the favorites to win the title next season, along with KCC, KT, and LG. In addition to the strength of last season’s runner-up finish in the championship finals, the Knights also have the return of Ahn Young-joon (28‧194.1cm) from his military service and the addition of KGC star Oh Se-geun (36‧199.8cm), who contended for the title this season.
The average age of the core players is a variable, but based on what they have shown so far, it is possible to compete for the championship for 2-3 seasons. Moreover, it is possible to do more than that with seasoned players, as Kia Motors did in the past when it was an unemployed basketball team. SK’s heartthrob Kim Sun-hyung (34‧187cm) and the country’s top big man, Oh Se-geun, are known for their self-discipline.
Their positive culture can also influence other veterans such as Heo Il-young and Choi Buk-kyung. With a deep roster and a good rotation, SK’s glory days are likely to continue for some time. However, there is a catch. Foreign players are a huge part of the team, and it’s only when they are stable that the team is able to build a complete roster.
That’s why it’s so important for SK to keep their first-option foreign player, Jamil Warney (29‧199cm). He has been with the team since 2019 and has a good relationship with the club and his teammates, so it is likely that he will wear an SK uniform next season, barring any special circumstances such as a transfer to another league. As the saying goes, ‘SK’s firepower comes from Kim Sun-hyung and Warney,’ and Warney will be essential to the team’s continued success in the championship.
Warney is arguably the best foreign player in the KBL. He made his presence felt in the 2019-20 season, winning the Rookie of the Year award before making his debut. SK fans were thrilled to have a new foreign star to replace longtime foreign player Aaron Haynes. The next season was a different story. He didn’t train as well as he should have due to personal issues, and he didn’t show the skills he had in the previous season. His outbursts on and off the court became more frequent.
This is why SK had serious doubts about re-signing Warney after the season. New head coach Jeon Hee-cheol chose to keep Warney. The second season was a mixed bag, but he believed that Warney, who had prepared properly for the season, was still one of the best in the league. The former coach’s gamble paid off.
Warney went on to win the Foreign Player of the Year award for the second year in a row, solidifying his role as a pillar of SK. He has now won the award three times in his career, which is tied for the most with Johnny McDowell and Ragan. If he adds another award in the future, he will move into sole possession of first place. SK and Warne are also said to be in talks to extend his contract for next season, as they have a lot of trust in each other.
Despite falling just short of the title, Warney’s consistent scoring was a big part of SK’s better-than-expected performance this season. Throughout the playoffs, Warney put on a scoring show in a variety of ways. He used the power of his athletic frame to drive to the basket for a hook shot, or he grabbed rebound after rebound after rebound after rebound after missed shot.
We can’t forget Jeon’s press floater. When people think of a player who is good at shooting floaters in SK, they usually think of Kim Sun-hyung. In fact, Kim is often referred to as the league’s leading floater master. However, Warney’s floater is second to none. When his fingertips are hot, his accuracy is almost “throw it and it goes in”. It doesn”t matter how far away or how close the defense is.
He often throws from near the post, as well as from the free throw line or just below the three-point line, with a significant success rate. Between double- and triple-teams, he often makes what looks like a casual (?) throw in the middle of a double- or triple-team, but he keeps going, leaving defenders floundering. For a player who is supposed to be a scoring machine, Warney is big, flexible, and skilled.
He’s also got a power tool, so he doesn’t get pushed around or lose his center even when he’s surrounded by multiple defenders. That’s why his shots are often taken from a stable balance, and his success rate is naturally high. His energy level is also high. He doesn’t just sit on the sidelines because he’s a good scorer, he runs around, sets screens, and actively participates in rebounding.
But he doesn’t just attack alone. He also has good vision, so when his teammates are open, he doesn’t force the issue and looks for the open shot. It is no exaggeration to say that Warney is the most valuable foreign player at this point. Due to the one-player foreign player system, it is not easy to bring in swingmen and guards, even if they have good skills. This is because they can’t defend under the basket.스포츠토토
In that regard, Warney’s ability to score in the paint at the highest level of any foreign player in history, his ability to act as a trailer in the fast break despite his size, and his ability to defend against opposing big men’s attacks with his body make him a coveted resource for any team. He’s been criticized for his weaknesses on the perimeter, but it’s probably greedy to expect that from a power-technician with Warney’s size and weight.
If he could shoot three-pointers at a decent level and defend the perimeter, we might never see him in Korea. In any case, if the dynamic duo with Kim Sun-hyung and the twin towers with Oh Se-geun continue to operate smoothly, opponents will have a harder time stopping SK’s firepower. It will be interesting to see if the strongest Black Knight, Warnie, will stay with SK next season and lead the Knight Legion’s rise to prominence.