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Lance Ware keeps fighting to create a key role for himself

“That’s life in the real world. Not everybody can be the star.”

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Lance Ware Drew Brown - Sea of Blue

Coming in as a 4-star freshman for the Kentucky Wildcats in 2020-21, Lance Ware played behind 5-star freshman Isaiah Jackson, as well as impact transfers Jacob Toppin and Olivier Sarr. Ware still started three games and averaged just over 12 minutes per game but was relatively inefficient.

Last season, Ware’s role was reduced even more while 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, Ware was much more efficient in his limited time:.

  • 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 carved out a role for himself, bringing toughness and energy off the bench, but he finds it funny when people think he wants to fight.

Ware told Kyle Tucker of The Athletic, “I’m not going to fight you right here in the middle of the court. If I really wanted to fight you, we could just go in the back and fight. If I wanted to fight in front of a crowd, I’d go be a boxer.”

Going into his junior year and with a very talented and deep Kentucky frontcourt, Ware’s opportunity for playing time does not look any better.

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 four-star reclassification; and then Lance Ware.

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?

He was asked just that by Tucker.

“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.”

Ware’s comment shows just how self-aware he is. Rather than be a four-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.

Just because he may play a smaller role, don’t let that fool you. Tshiebwe told Tucker that he can tell that Ware has improved. “He’s always attacking you,” Tshiebwe said.

Be sure to read the full story at The Athletic.

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