The Kentucky Wildcats look to have plenty of frontcourt depth for this upcoming season.
You have Oscar Tshiebwe, the returning National Player of the Year; Damion Collins and Jacob Toppin, two freak athletes who look to have made big improvements; Ugonna Kingsley, a last-minute 4-star reclassification; and then, Lance Ware.
- Height: 6-foot-9
- Weight: 235 lbs.
- Class: Junior
- Position: Forward
- Hometown: Camden, NJ
- High School: Camden
- Recruit Rankings: 4-star recruit ranked No. 39 overall and No. 5 among power forwards in the class of 2020 via 247 Sports Composite.
Ware could play a much more significant role or even start at another school, so why not follow the route of hundreds of other players and transfer?
Kyle Tucker of The Athletic asked him that back in August and this is what he had to say:
“People always ask me that. ‘Why not leave, go play somewhere I can get more minutes?’ Because I love Kentucky. I love the fans. I love the way coach Cal does things. I just want to stay and get better and see what I can get out of the experience of challenging myself. Because that’s just life. Forget basketball. That’s life in the real world. Not everybody can be the star. Not everybody gets to go out and score 30. But I still have a role on this team that I believe is very important.”
This self-awareness displays a lot of intelligence and shows the type of player that Ware is. Expect the junior to step up to the challenge again this season.
Coming in as a 4-star freshman for the Kentucky Wildcats in 2020-21, Lance Ware played behind five-star freshman Isaiah Jackson, and impact transfers Jacob Toppin and Olivier Sarr. However, he started three games and averaged just over 12 minutes per game but was relatively inefficient.
Last season, Ware’s role was reduced even more, as Oscar Tshiebwe demanded almost 32 minutes per game in his Player of the Year campaign. However, in nearly half the minutes he played than he played the previous season he was much more efficient in his limited time. Take a look:
- 2020-21 (254 total minutes, 12.1 mpg): 41 total points, 62 total rebounds, 40.6% FG
- 2021-22 (177 total minutes, 6.3 mpg): 42 total points, 53 total rebounds, 66.7% FG
Despite limited playing time, Ware has carved out a spot for himself, bringing toughness and energy off the bench, but don’t let that fool you. Tshiebwe says Ware has improved.
“He’s always attacking you,” Tshiebwe said.
At Kentucky’s recent Media Day, head coach John Calipari noted that Ware has been putting on some serious weight.
“I asked Lance to gain weight. I want you up to 240, he was at 233. He was at 217 last year. So now all of a sudden you got Lance more physical and able to hold his position. He makes it hard,” Calipari said.
Rather than be a 4-star recruit who could be a major contributor for a mid-major, he has created a key role for himself and become a fan favorite at a blue-blood school that he loves.