There haven’t been a ton of feel-good stories this season for the Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball program.
Sure — the Cats didn’t do themselves any favors during their abysmal 1-6 start to the season. But it’s also fair to point out the fact that luck hasn’t exactly been on their side either.
Did all that bad luck change in Starkville on Saturday night?
The obvious story coming out of UK’s double-overtime win was the emergence of Kentucky native, Dontaie Allen.
Not only did the former Mr. Basketball get an opportunity to play — he delivered in incredible fashion. It goes without saying that Allen will now find himself firmly in the rotation as Kentucky continues to navigate the early portion of their conference schedule.
Even more good news for the Big Blue Nation is that freshman forward Lance Ware is also beginning to garner praise for the quality minutes that he’s provided over the last several games.
Even when John Calipari’s team has struggled the most this season, you can call attention to the effort that Ware has shown game in and game out.
Calipari on Lance Ware (12 rebounds):— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) January 3, 2021
“Unbelievable. I went and hugged him after and said, ‘Your fight was unbelievable.’ He’s really, really intelligent and smart. His execution on offense and defense is ON POINT. So I gave him a hug.”
Ware grabbed 12 boards against Mississippi State, and the Cats pretty much needed every single one of them. Carving out a role as a junkyard dog in the paint could be exactly what earns him more minutes moving forward.
UK is still without the services of sophomore Keion Brooks Jr., and at this point, it doesn’t seem like counting on his return any time soon is a wise bet. Ware is now averaging four rebounds a game and shooting just over 40% from the floor.
It’s no secret that Olivier Sarr and Isaiah Jackson are prone to early foul trouble, so the option to slide Ware in will undoubtedly prove to be huge as Kentucky fights to build a NCAA Tournament worthy resume.
For years, you hear the rumblings about the need for multi-year players to fuel a program’s success year after year. Lance Ware seems to check all of the boxes for what could be a viable option for Calipari’s frontcourt for years to come.