Annie Warren does not say much. She is not a diva. She is not a huge trash-talker either.
To put it simply, the star guard is a well-rounded player with the biggest season of her career just about to tip off. Warren’s success in her fifth and final year will be integral to the Stony Brook women’s basketball team, as it looks to return to the NCAA tournament this March.
Warren has given a lot to the Seawolves, including three All-Conference selections and some of the most prolific shooting numbers in the program’s history. Now playing in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), expectations remain high for Warren and company. She was selected to the All-CAA Preseason Second Team, while Stony Brook was projected to finish in third place. After being arguably their best player last year, Warren is the biggest name to watch out for on this year’s squad.
“Annie Buckets is a knockdown shooter, and her game has improved as well,” head coach Ashley Langford said in an interview with The Statesman.
A basketball lifer through and through, Warren’s time dominating the hardwood goes back to her days as an elementary schooler in Atlanta.
“Growing up in Atlanta, I think that’s a basketball world,” Warren said. “I’ve been playing basketball since fifth grade. I would play pickup at the parks. I was always at a gym every night.”
Warren dedicated herself to the game, going the extra mile to set herself above the rest.
“It was always basketball first,” Warren said. “In high school, we would have practice after school and then after practice, I would go to another gym just to shoot around. I would be out all night.”
Basketball runs in the Warren bloodline, as both her mother and uncle have a history in this game. Her uncle played Division I basketball at Tennessee Tech and went on to play professionally overseas. Her mother, Stacy Dancy, was a hooper in high school. Dancy was also a swimmer, track runner and volleyball player.
Dancy served as a role model, guiding Warren to become the person and athlete she is today.
“My mom really helped me with all of this,” Warren said. “Putting me in the right places to be able to be here.”
Dancy signed Warren up for her first Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team when she was 13, joining an organization called the Georgia Pearls. She later joined Team Elite in high school before returning to the Pearls in twelfth grade. Warren excelled in AAU but preferred her time playing for her school team.
Warren attended Westlake High School in Atlanta and played all four years on the varsity girl’s basketball team. She had an illustrious career there, scoring over 1,000 points en route to earning national attention. In her senior year, Warren led the team to its first state championship in school history. In the title game, Warren engineered a second-half comeback to earn the championship victory. That team went 30-2 overall and earned an invitation to the GEICO High School Basketball Nationals. She was even featured in an ESPN article that March.
“It was really exciting,” Warren said. “For me, I was on a mission. It was my last year, I wanted to go out with a bang.”
Winning at that high of a level at that age helped develop Warren’s mental aspect as a player. She said that it helped light a fire inside that keeps her desire to win burning strong.
“I think it was very important because when you come to college, you know what needs to be done to be able to win,” Warren said. “Just being able to experience that makes you want it more.”
Not much of a talker, Warren said she did not communicate well with the college coaches who were recruiting her. She had several Division I offers come her way, only to see most of them rescinded. When it finally came time to make a decision, Warren’s remaining options were Loyola University New Orleans — an NAIA school — and Stony Brook. She chose to become a Seawolf, as she felt that Loyola did not want her at first.
“The other school [Loyola] didn’t really want me at first, so I wasn’t really feeling that,” Warren said. “So I decided to come here. But I really did like it here. They made me feel comfortable and feel like family. They actually wanted me to come here.”
Warren wasted no time once she got to Stony Brook, earning America East (AE) All-Rookie honors as a freshman in the 2018-19 season. She was one of the team’s best bench players, playing 17.4 minutes per game despite only starting seven games. She earned AE Rookie of the Week four times that season and helped lead the team to a 23-8 overall record. She credits her coaches and teammates for helping her successfully adapt to the NCAA.
“It actually was not easy, but it was really my coaches and my teammates,” Warren said. “They knew my potential and they pushed me towards that. I was playing against players like Shorty [Shania] Johnson and Jerell Matthews everyday. So I think that really helped.”
Warren made a huge second-year leap, becoming a Third Team All-Conference selection in the 2019-20 season. She started all 31 games and shot a career-best 41.9% from the field. She also shot 34.1% from three-point range and 75.9% from the free throw line, which were both significant increases from her freshman season. She averaged 10.0 points per game as the Seawolves finished first place in the regular season.
That team made it all the way to the AE championship before the outbreak of COVID-19 led to the game being canceled. Missing out on the NCAA tournament was a hard pill to swallow for Warren and the Seawolves, but she believes that it helped strengthen the team’s chemistry.
“It was tough, but it was a great experience with my teammates,” Warren said. “I think it made us closer.”
Stony Brook bounced back in the 2020-21 season, winning its first AE tournament championship and advancing to the NCAA tournament. Warren was integral in this achievement, as she started all 21 games for the Seawolves and played the most minutes on the team. She shot .392/.326/.808 while leading the team in three-pointers. Her scoring average went up to 10.6 points per game. Warren’s regular season earned her a second-consecutive Third Team All-Conference selection.
Like she did in high school, Warren upped her game when her team needed it most. In the AE championship game against Maine, she scored a career-high 31 points to send Stony Brook to the NCAA Tournament. Her performance earned her the Most Outstanding Player award of the tournament, and the 31 points was tied for 10th most in a game by a Seawolf.
“It felt really good,” Warren said. “I’m always putting in the hard work. So, for it to be able to show, especially on one of the biggest stages, it’s really exciting.”
Warren continued to ascend in her senior year, putting up career highs in points per game, rebounds, assists and three-point percentage. Her 12.0 points per game was good for eighth best in the conference, while her 2.4 assists per game was good for 13th. Her career year led to her being selected to the All-AE First Team. She was also named the team’s captain. Behind her efforts and leadership, Stony Brook went 23-6 and earned an automatic bid to the 2022 Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).
Coming into this year, Warren has a chance to cement herself as one of the greatest players in program history. She has made the sixth-most three pointers in school history and boasts the 10th-highest three-point percentage (.327) of any qualified shooter. She also enters the season as the fourth-best free throw shooter in program history at 77.5%. Warren is currently just 56 points away from reaching the 1,000 point mark. She could potentially move into Stony Brook’s top 10 all-time scorers list with 406 points this year.
With several starters from last year’s team gone, Warren is all but guaranteed to be the top option for the Seawolves on offense. Despite the potential statistical accomplishments that Warren could reach this year, her goal is simply to be a better leader and teammate.
“I want to make my teammates better,” Warren said. “I don’t have to always score, but I want to put my teammates in a position to score.”
Down the road, Warren wants to play professionally. She has been a health science major since her freshman year and is interested in going into nursing. However, as of now, the goal is to make it to the WNBA.
“If I get the opportunity, I won’t pass up on it.”