As a transfer to BYU from a small NCAA Division II basketball program, Brandon Warr knows the odds are against him.
He doesn’t care.
When Cougar fans talk about the exciting roster Mark Pope is putting together, Warr is an afterthought.
That doesn’t matter to him.
The 6-foot-5 Warr spent the first three years of his college career at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, establishing himself as a scorer (15.3 points per game), a ferocious rebounder (8.9 per game) from his guard spot and a strong shooter (37% from the 3-point line).
Rather than finish out his career at Westminster on scholarship, he decided to chase his dream as a walk-on in Provo, utilizing his redshirt year in 2020-21.
“Westminster was the highlight of my life,” Warr said. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and it’s been an awesome opportunity. I’ve got one year left of college eligibility and I’ve always had that dream of playing D1 basketball. I’ve always lived by the idea that things are never given easily. I want to look back with no regrets and pursue that dream. BYU came up and it was a wonderful opportunity so I decided to pull the trigger on it.”
Warr played out of position by necessity at Highland High School in Salt Lake City, moving to power forward or even center because it was best for the team. As a senior in 2014-15, Warr averaged 15.9 points and 6.7 rebounds but went largely unnoticed by college recruiters.
“Let’s just say I was a little bit of a late bloomer,” Warr said. “In high school I grew quite quickly length-wise, but width-wise I was a like a stick my freshman and sophomore years.”
Warr said a few Division III schools showed interest and he went to an elite camp at Yale on the East Coast. The school offered him a spot on the roster but his ACT scores didn’t meet the requirement.
So Warr decided to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spending two years in Germany. When he returned, the school around the corner (Westminster is just a mile and a half from Highland High) came calling and Warr grabbed the opportunity. He averaged nearly 35 minutes a game last season – the most in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference – and was named to the All-RMAC second team.
The Griffins finished 16-12 last year and lost to eventual RMAC regular-season champ Dixie State 82-60 in the season finale. Warr started thinking about his future amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’s this sweet article that (NBA star) Steph Curry wrote in the Player’s Tribune,” Warr said. “It was called ‘Underrated.’ It talked about what you need to do to achieve goals and do well in life. In the article, Curry talked about writing your own story. I really wanted to make that happen and make the jump to Division I. I want to look back in five years and have no regrets. I have just one year left. I want to at least try.”
Warr entered the transfer portal and got a call from BYU coaches explaining the opportunity.
“I’d heard a lot of great things about Mark Pope and his coaching staff,” he said. “I believe I can do it. I just need an opportunity. If the door is open, I’ll do the rest."
Warr has filled out since his early high school days, checking in at 215 pounds. He hangs his hat on rebounding, defense, hustle and the ability to come off a screen to shoot a jumper.
Warr is also a leaper.
“It’s up there,” he said. “We’ll just say I can jump pretty high.”
Warr is finishing up his paperwork and plans to join his BYU teammates in early August. For now, he’s working out with former BYU linebacker Jordan Pendleton at Pendleton Performance in Lehi. He is playing pickup games in Salt Lake City with Utah and Utah State alums.
Warr said he will work hard during his redshirt year to improve his game and prepare for his senior season in 2021-22.
“My handles are a big thing, especially with the higher level of play,” he said. “I want to consistently expand my game and be able to shoot the ball at any range. My defense is great and my movement is good. I’m really stoked and ready to guard whoever the coaches need me to guard. I want to be able to lock them down, for sure. It’s going to be hard, but that’s what makes it more meaningful and that’s one of the reasons why I should do it.”