M.J. the Warrior: The under-appreciated gets his time to shine at Cameron University

The college basketball recruitment process is often grueling, and a never-ending cycle for college coaches, while it’s sometimes overwhelming, stressful, and all-in-all fun for college athletes. While attending college on a scholarship, or attending a college, and getting the opportunity to walk-on to continue your basketball career is a blessing, there are plenty of instances where players are overlooked.

Former Putnam City West guard M.J. Warrior is one of those players that has gotten the opportunity to continue his basketball career at the collegiate level while earning a scholarship. While it’s a blessing that he’ll get his education paid for, it is clear that Cameron University got a steal with Warrior.

“I was kind of under-recruited, so, I mean, it was a little stressful. There were times at where I wondered if I’d even get the chance to play college ball, where at, and what level. But at the same time, I just stayed in the gym, kept my confidence, and kept working. It all worked out.”

M.J. committed to Cameron University, an NCAA Division II school in Lawton, OK on April 7. While Cameron had a sub-par 2019-20 season, finishing with a 9-19 record, they’re returning all but two players next season, and they’re in the most competitive conference in Division II basketball. Warrior is headed to an opportunity that’s comparable to a mid-major Division I program, which is where I scouted Warrior’s talent earlier last season when I watched him play.

His size mixed with his basketball IQ, and skillset easily makes for your stereotypical mid-major caliber of player, but somehow all of those schools missed out on him, and the Aggies got the prize. Warrior is a 6-foot-1 traditional point guard that you aren’t going to see make many mistakes on the court. When West was healthy this season, they clicked on all cylinders, and it was easy to highlight OSU signee Rondel Walker as the reason why. While Walker took over games with his raw talent and multi-versed repertoire, Warrior was the captain of that ship and kept everything in working order.

“People always ask me if we would have won the state title,” said Warrior. “I always tell them, 100 percent yes. We were so locked in. At the beginning we did struggle. It was hard for us with a lot of injuries, so we kind of had to battle through it and stay together as a team. We stayed on the grind and it paid off.”

I went to cover one of their games late in the season, and everything I thought after watching tape on Warrior was true. Everything that he said in the above quote was also true. Warrior was the heart and soul of that Patriot team, but who hit the big shots late in the game to seal the victory? Walker.

Because of that, Warrior’s multiple defensive stops leading to transition baskets took a backseat role. Warrior also was a masterful floor general, by reading through a stifling opposing defense and getting Walker in scoring position.

“Rondel is my best friend of four years,” said Walker. He’s a hell of a player, but it was kind of hard. A lot of things I did that made a huge impact on the game got overlooked, but at the end of the day, it’s about winning.”

Warrior is the personification of a team player and while he was underrated in high school, that’s going to drastically change once he gets integrated into Cameron’s program. The Lone Star Conference will be hearing and seeing a lot from M.J. Warrior.

Addam M. Francisco

Founder & Editor-in-Chief. National Association of Black Journalists. University of Central Oklahoma.

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