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Late bloomer: Kentucky bound big man Lance Ware

By Kris Rhim
@krisrhim1

When Lance Ware started playing basketball in the eighth grade, he was unsure if hoops was the right sport for him. In his first workout, Ware, standing six-feet five-inches tall, skinny, and nervous couldn’t make a jump shot; barely could dribble and was frustrated working on basic basketball drills.

“At first I didn’t have a love for it. I was kind of like, ehh I don’t know,” Ware said. “Then out of nowhere, I saw myself getting better and I just stuck with it. I’ve been getting better ever since. I love it now.”

Fast forward four years later, the now six-foot-nine, 215-pound senior forward is one of the best players in the country. The Camden high senior is currently the 43rd overall recruit in the country according to ESPN’s 2020 high school class rankings.

In November, Ware signed his National Letter of intent to play college basketball at the University of Kentucky. The Wildcats have one of the most storied basketball programs in the country with eight national titles all-time, second only to UCLA’s 11.

Along with a Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee at head coach in John Calipari, the Wildcats become an easy school to pick for most recruits.

For Ware, however, he wasn’t looking to go to the biggest name or the school with the most pedigree. The four-star recruit wanted to make sure that whatever school he chose to attend he could feel comfortable and learn the most to improve his basketball career and overall life.

“He didn’t talk much about basketball, it was really a normal conversation, it was more about life,” Ware said. “He’s one of the best basketball coaches in the nation, so he can teach us life lessons and basketball lessons at the same time. Can’t beat that.”

He ultimately chose Kentucky over a bevy of other schools including, Miami, Michigan, Providence and Ohio State.

Ware is currently in the midst of his senior season at Camden High School in New Jersey and feels that his last year will be his best to date.

“This is my favorite team I’ve ever played on,” Ware said. “From AAU, to high school, to camps, it’s the best. I’m having a great time, especially with the youngsters. I see a lot of potential in our younger guys because they’re really not lazy and they work hard every day.”

Another aspect that Ware loves about his team is the standard that first year head coach Ric Brunson holds all his players to. Brunson, a former NBA player and coach, brings knowledge and experience that would match any coach in the country.

At Camden’s practice prior to their matchup with ESPN’s No. 18 ranked team in the country, Rancho Christian, Ware was late on a shift in the defensive zone. Brunson stopped the entire practice to yell at Ware and let him know that plays like that could lose them games.

“Coach keeps me humble,” Ware said laughing. “He keeps everybody on the team humble. He doesn’t show favorites to anybody, and by him being so real with us — all one through 13 — we know that there’s nobody more important than the other person at all.”

On Saturday, Ware matched-up against the consensus No. 1 player in the country Evan Mobley live on ESPN3. Camden got the win 61 – 59 in front of a sold-out crowd and Ware earned the most outstanding player award finishing with 18 points, 14 rebounds, 4 steals and 1 block.

So much for that nervous eighth grader that felt “ehh” about basketball.

Photos Courtesy of Joe Arruda

3 comments

  1. Look forward to having him part of the family at Kentucky. Calipari recruits great kids to the program,kids that have respect,and who wants to learn and be part of a team,and there’s no doubt in my mind hearing this kid,he is absolutely that kind of young man. Welcome to the family Lance !

  2. I think Lance Ware will really thrive at Kentucky. They have elite guards galore, but probably most of the big men will be gone next year. Ware will fill that void quickly and learn fast with Calipari and Kenny Payne teaching him the ropes. If Brown or Omoruyi commit, look out! That might take Kentucky to at least a final 4. If they both commit Kentucky will be hell to beat! Either way; I think Lance Ware will be in basketball heaven!

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