UK Recruiting

Lance Ware’s coach expecting great things at UK. ‘Good isn’t good enough for him.’

Four-star power forward Lance Ware is the latest highly touted prospect from the 2020 recruiting class to announce his commitment to Kentucky.

Ware — a 6-foot-9 player from Camden, N.J. — revealed his decision Thursday, and he’ll be eligible to officially sign with the Wildcats on Nov. 13.

Andy Borman, the head coach of the New York Renaissance program on the Nike travel circuit, spoke to the Herald-Leader about the commitment of Ware, who enjoyed a breakout showing on the summer circuit and catapulted up to the No. 31 overall spot in the player rankings for the 2020 class.

Here’s what Borman, who also coached former UK guard Hamidou Diallo, had to say about the future Kentucky Wildcat:

What did you see out of Lance this summer, and what kind of player is UK getting next season?

“He’s a player that has come into his own the past three or four months. He’s gotta be — out of everybody — he’s gotta be one of the guys that’s come on the strongest. And the unique thing about him is that it’s not like he came out of nowhere. He’s been a known commodity for a long time, but I think it’s a difference between potential and production. And I think that you could always — even up through the end of May — you could always see his potential, because he’d have those big games. But they weren’t strung together consecutively. And then, in June and July, it’s just like the light went off. He literally was just putting game after game, back to back to back together. So I think what Kentucky’s getting is a kid that really has an idea of who he is and a really good idea of who he can be. He’s not afraid of the challenge, and obviously you can’t be if you’re going to a school like Kentucky. He’s one of the hardest-playing kids. He was definitely one of the hardest-playing kids at Peach Jam. That’s who he’s decided he’s going to be. He’s decided he’s going to be a high-motor guy. And, because of that, everything else he does is enhanced.”

Can you put your finger on what caused him to flip that switch over the summer? Where did that come from?

“I would have to give all the credit to Lance and his high school coach (Rick Brunson). Because when he was with us in April and May — during those EYBL regular season games — like I said, don’t get me wrong, he was really good. But it was on again, off again. He’d have a game of 18 and 13, and then the next game he’d be in early foul trouble and it would just be like he couldn’t get momentum behind him. And then with this new (recruiting calendar) structure, I didn’t see him much in June. He played with Camden for Coach Brunson, and when he came back to practice — I mean, I heard about him in June; and everybody is raving about Lance Ware — and when he came back to practice and we were doing our minicamp to get ready for Peach Jam, he was just a different kid. The way he was running, rim to rim. Things that he had done, he was just doing them every single time.

“The light comes on at different times for different kids. Especially for big kids. And Lance is a big young man. It just came on in June. I wish I could take credit for it, but I think it was Coach Brunson having time with the kid. And then I think the most important thing was Lance’s acceptance — and not just acceptance, he embraced it. You talk about rim-running, rim-protecting, you talk about finishing — those things went up two levels. And then when you add his ball skills and his face-to-the-basket game — he went from being a top-60 kid to being a top-20 kid. He went from being a kid who probably needed to make the right choice to a kid that could go anywhere. And, obviously, making the decision to go to a school like Kentucky — that just shows me that he’s trying to get better. And he’s only embracing the challenge more.”

When they do flip that switch — and that’s something that they kind of have to do on their own; and, for some, it never happens — what does that say about a kid like Lance and his upside and future?

“I just think it shows that he’s a competitor. There are a lot of kids out there that get happy and get complacent real quick. And for a kid like Lance, before the light came on, he was really good, too. I can’t stress that enough. This kid was a household name before this. He just wasn’t one of those hyper-elite guys. But he was really, really good. And he had a lot of stars and a lot of numbers next to his name. I just think it shows that he’s a competitor. I think it shows that he’s not complacent. That ‘good’ isn’t good enough for him. And he wants to be special. Good. Good. Go swim in deep waters, man. Because that’s how you find out what you’re made of.”

Speaking to his future at UK, it seems that Cal might be able to use him a few different ways, just because of his versatility. Do you think it’s a matter of who else is around him in that frontcourt?

“Yeah, I think so. You could play him by himself and put four guards around him. Because he’s so long and he’s got great timing and he’ll fight. You could do that. You could also put a traditional big down there and play him as more of a free-flowing ‘4’. Or you could put him and a guy just like him down there and let them be interchangeable. I think that’s one of his best traits. One, he’s extremely versatile. He really is extremely versatile, and, as a coach, he kind of lets you play with a lot of different lineups. The second thing is he’s a great kid, and his teammates love him. And he loves his teammates. He’s a unifier. He wants to be around the guys. There is nothing controversial about him. He is not a divider, he’s a unifier. And those guys are invaluable. Those are the guys that help you win championships.”

Ben Roberts covers UK basketball, football and other sports for the Lexington Herald-Leader and has specialized in UK basketball recruiting for the past several years. He also maintains the Next Cats recruiting blog, which features the latest news on the Wildcats’ recruiting efforts.
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