Kevin Warren is a kid straight outta East Oakland who has been seriously hoopin’ it up in recent years for St. Mary’s-Albany High.
Saturday he’ll lead the Panthers into the Prep2Prep Classic one-day basketball event at Newark Memorial High.The Panthers meet Manteca at 11 a.m. in the day's first game.
But Warren isn’t just some kid from the ‘hood who wound up at a $20,000-a-year private school because of his prodigious basketball talent. Actually he received an academic scholarship out of St. Martin de Porres School of Oakland to attend the private school of 650 students near the Albany/Berkeley border.
Not much about Warren is exactly as it seems, as one examines a 17-year-old negotiating his way through life – hailing initially from the mean streets of the big city, but now living in Richmond and excelling in the diverse melting pot that is St. Mary’s.
“We lived close to the (Oakland) Coliseum,” said Warren's mother Kenya Williams. “It wasn’t the best area and it’s true that every kid has his story, but Kevin’s is a little different. He lived there, but he’s also experienced San Leandro and Richmond and he’s gone to school at St. Martin’s and St. Mary’s.”
Kenya is a long-time educator who is an administrator at the Richmond Charter School. His father Jeffrey Warren who he visits occasionally is a school counselor in New Jersey. So the star St. Mary’s guard has some smarts, as proven by his 3.0 grade point average at a college prep school and his articulate manner of speech. But some of that East Oakland street kid and swagger remains.
“I think NBA players from Oakland have that toughness – the mentality of playing hard,” Warren said. “There’s Jason Kidd and Damian Lillard and Gary Payton, to name a few.”
Warren’s Twitter account @kev_skinny also is filled with the typical teen slang of the street with “Yo Marquette boys on right now” and “My man Curry ate his Wheaties this morning” and “Need a majestic nap” among his offerings.
Just don’t sleep on Kevin Warren, a lean 6-foot-4 play-maker who averaged 19.9 points per game during the regular season last year, to go along with 2.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.
Highlights of Warren’s 2014-2015 season show a player that gets out on the break quickly and expertly uses his body around the basket to finish. He can also hit the 3-pointer, making six of them while scoring 23 points Feb. 10 of last season in a win against St. Joseph Notre Dame. .
Warren’s clutch play near the end of the season took St. Mary’s (20-12) to the CIF-State NorCal Regionals where they fell in the title game to Capital Christian-Sacramento 60-47.
Chico State, UC-Riverside and Western Oregon are among those said to be interested in the Slim Reaper (as he likes to call himself) with a knack for putting the ball in the cylinder.
Confidence isn’t a problem.
“I can score in many, many ways,” Warren said. “I think I’m one of the most underrated players out there. I don’t think I’ve gotten the credit I deserve and so I have a chip on my shoulder. I’m versatile and can do a lot of things on the floor – whatever it takes to win games.”
Academics aren’t an issue either. Warren’s mom has made sure of that.
“I’ve tried to see that he’s in the best schools and best academic environment possible,” Kenya said. “Yes, he was from the ‘hood and a tough background where we lived, but we have a house where everyone sits down and eats together and Kevin is getting a private-school education.”
While at St. Martin’s where he was class valedictorian and volunteered at a food bank, Warren got a nudge toward St. Mary’s-Albany from his grade school principal Maurice Harper, a St. Mary’s grad. The eighth grader visited the school and immediately felt at home.
“It’s small and very diverse,” Warren said. “It’s where I wanted to be.”
At home Kenya said her son is quiet and gets along well with his step-dad Charles Motte and 6-year-old brother Aiden. Away from the nest he’s known to be outgoing and a bit of a cut-up.
“I’m very close to my mom,” Warren said. “We have a lot of tough moments with me being a teen-ager, but she supports me and comes to every game and critiques my game.”
Kenya laughed when she heard that.
“I just tell him to take his shot when he’s open,” she said. “He says he doesn’t hear me when he’s playing but I still yell ‘Take your shot!’”
Come Saturday, he will.
John Murphy may be reached at jmurphy@Prep2Prep. Follow him on Twitter @PrepCat
Saturday, Newark Memorial HS
11 a.m: St. Mary's-Albany vs. Manteca
12:30 p.m.: Bishop O'Dowd vs. Dublin
2:15 p.m.: Immanuel-Reedley vs. Weston Ranch
3:45 p.m.: Sheldon vs. Army-Navy
5:30 p.m.: Modesto Christian vs. Folson
7 p.m.: Newark Memorial vs. Woodcreek
8:30 p.m.: Moreau Catholic vs. Sierra Canyon-Chatsworth