Sports

Mercer Island basketball player commits to University of the Pacific

Mercer Island High School senior Kaleb Warner signed his letter of intent to attend the University of Pacific Wednesday, Nov. 13.   - Joseph Livarchik/Mercer Island Reporter
Mercer Island High School senior Kaleb Warner signed his letter of intent to attend the University of Pacific Wednesday, Nov. 13.
— image credit: Joseph Livarchik/Mercer Island Reporter

Beneath his black and orange cap, Kaleb Warner was all smiles Wednesday.

The Mercer Island High School senior and basketball standout signed a letter of intent to attend the University of the Pacific on an athletic scholarship Wednesday, Nov. 13. Other schools he was considering included UC Santa Barbara and Santa Clara.

"I loved this process," Warner said of the recruitment. "It was really easy and calm. I wasn't getting hit with a ton of schools, getting multiple texts from four or five schools. I got to talk and bond with the coaches, it was a real easy process."

A 6'6 forward for Mercer Island's boys basketball team, Warner was the Islanders' third-leading scorer last season, averaging 13.8 points per game. He was also named to the KingCo 3A All-League first team. With his length and tendency to play the passing lanes, Warner said his game has drawn comparisons to former NBA player Lamar Odom. But he tries to resemble his favorite player, NBA all-star Dwyane Wade.

Warner said he started playing basketball when he was in fourth grade, playing in rec leagues around Friday Harbor, where his family lived before moving to Mercer Island. His mother, Charlyn, remembers Kaleb waking up at 4:30 a.m. to practice. "[Basketball] has always been his thing," she said. Playing college basketball runs in the family, as Kaleb's father, Dwayne, played college basketball at San Jose State and later overseas in Australia.

While Dwayne said he's emphasized working hard and getting better, he particularly stressed academics to his son when they would talk basketball.

"I remember him asking, 'do you think I can play Division 1 basketball?'" Dwayne Warner said. "I asked him, 'do you have the grades?' That's the one thing I pushed on him. You got to have the grades."

On the court, Warner hopes to help the Islanders reach the championships this season. Off the court, Warner said he'll be making sure he uses his time in class and goes to study hall when he can, as his parents make sure he's hitting the books every night.

Also signing to attend the University of the Pacific on Wednesday was O'Dea High School senior and basketball player Jacob Lampkin, Warner's friend and AAU teammate. Lampkin and Warner were invited to visit the university, which they did together. It didn't take long for them to decide where they'd be going.

"On our trip after our first night, we were like 'this is the place we're going to go,'" Warner said. Lampkin said he's looking forward to sharing the college experience with Warner. "It makes it easy going down with someone I've known for a couple of years, and it will make things comfortable," he said.

Warner said having Lampkin with him made the process easier and more fun. "It's been better in every aspect, because we like each other and we're friends," he said.

 

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