London Warren was a popular point guard for Dayton from 2006-10, starting for the team that reached the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament. But Flyer fans probably wouldn’t recognize the defensive-minded player if they saw him in action today.
Gone are his trademark dreadlocks. Gone, too, is his reluctance to shoot.
The 26-year-old Warren averaged 19.1 points last year for Obudai Kaszasok, a B Division pro team in Budapest, Hungary. He also notched 7.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in his second pro season overseas.
He never averaged more than 4.5 points for the Flyers, and UD opponents often backed off him during games, daring him to take 15-footers.
But the player who was content to set up others is looking out for himself now.
“I’m very trigger-happy,” he said with a laugh. “There’s no shots I don’t like.”
He added: “I’m shooting the ball extremely well from mid-range and just getting to the basket and finishing. My speed is really killing overseas. Nobody can really keep me in front of them.”
Warren was named third-team All-Hungary and has parlayed his breakout season into a promotion overseas. He signed a contract with UE Varna in Bulgaria, which finished as the runner-up in the Division A league.
Varna, located on the Black Sea, is known as one of the top resort cities in Europe. But Warren isn’t going there for the sights.
“The caliber in Hungary really wasn’t that strong. It was just a way to get my feet back in the door. They hadn’t seen me play in almost two years,” said Warren, who played one year in Germany after college before briefly getting into coaching.
“It was just a matter of me playing again and getting some (exposure) and being able to move up to a higher division, and it worked out. I see myself probably doing this for the next 10 years.”
Kevin Dillard and Josh Benson, who finished their Flyer careers last season, could be joining Warren on the European circuit.
The 6-foot Dillard, an All Atlantic 10 point guard, had an invitation to play for the Washington Wizards on their summer-league team but was cut before it began.
His father, also named Kevin, said the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves are interested in bringing Dillard in for their preseason camps. If neither opportunity pans out, “there’s money waiting for him overseas,” Kevin Sr. said.
The 6-9 Benson is expected to sign with a German team in the country’s top league, the BBL. He trained in Phoenix with assorted NBA players for about six weeks and worked out for Toronto, Cleveland, Miami and Detroit.
Already considered a leaper, the Dunbar product hiked his vertical jump to 44 inches.
“After the one tryout, one of the (scouts) said he was real impressed,” Benson said. “Unfortunately, the NBA is a one-in-a-million chance. I’m not really too stuck on it. There’s great opportunities for me to get to the NBA later in my career.”
He’s gotten some nibbles from NBA D-League teams, but Benson said: “I just think going to Germany would be a better move for me right now, so I can grow and develop and get accustomed to the next level and work my way in.”
Benson averaged 10.6 and 10.9 points in his two seasons as a starter, but he never reached his full potential as a Flyer because of an ACL injury. He missed the second half of his junior year after blowing out his knee and said he wasn’t really full strength until midway through his senior year.
Although he was a power forward at UD, he played mostly at the 3 spot during his training sessions.
“It was hard at first handling the ball, but it’s been coming along,” he said. “Strength wise, I’ve gotten a lot stronger and a lot bigger, and I’m more confident in my game. I think people would be shocked.”