This past season, Gavin Ware again had a solid showing on the hardwood and also again, the junior post man helped lead Starkville to the Class 6A state tournament in Jackson. Yet Ware showed a bit of versatility in the post this year.
Yes, Ware still dominated at times in the post and averaged 19 points, 10.5 boards and five blocked shots. But he also displayed a better shooting touch, which was something he worked on last offseason.
"Last year I was mostly involved in the post," said the 6-foot-8 and 240-pound Ware. "I am still working there a lot but I shot more 15 and 16-footers this year. I come in late at night to work on my shot and work on my shot off the dribble."
Like all high school players, Ware also took advantage of his coach's advice. However, that advice from Starkville head coach Greg Carter has a little more value to it than most considering Carter was a former All-SEC performer at Mississippi State and also played pro ball overseas.
"It has prepared me a lot because Coach Carter used to play ball," said Ware. "A lot of things he used to do, he shows me how to do them to help me better my game."
Ware saw his junior season end prematurely after suffering a bruised knee in the Region 1-6A district tournament. Ware missed the rest of the postseason, which greatly hampered the Jackets' chances of repeating as Class 6A champions.
But Ware will soon return to the floor in the AAU circuit with the Southern Phenoms out of Meridian. Ware said the Phenoms will soon begin their normal spring-summer tour with stops in New York, Birmingham, Atlanta and the AAU nationals in Orlando, Fla.
And no doubt Ware will witness numerous Division 1 programs in attendance during his AAU games. Ware already owns offers from Mississippi State, Alabama and Georgetown and is recently drawing interest from Tennessee and Missouri.
For several months now, Ware has been eying a trio of schools and that hasn't changed of late.
"It is mostly the same and it hasn't become a hard decision yet," said Ware. "It is still Georgetown, Mississippi State and Alabama on me the most. With Georgetown, it would be a good opportunity with their tradition with big men. Plus they are up North and have that basketball tradition where schools in the South are all about football. Mississippi State is close to home and I live a few minutes from campus. I wouldn't have to take a lot of flights, obviously, back home to see my parents.
"And with Alabama, they did very well in the SEC this year and they are just about an hour away."
Ware added that distance could play a factor in his choice as far as his family is concerned. But he said all three schools provide a good experience.
"My dad tells me Georgetown is a bit too far," said Ware. "But all three schools give me a good opportunity."
Of course, Ware is also not in any hurry to make a college decision anytime soon. He does plan to attend summer camps at MSU and Alabama and also take a visit to check out Georgetown.
"After I take my ACT (in May), I plan to really narrow it down and then maybe make my decision this time next spring," said Ware. "I am not rushing things and want to make sure I see all these schools a lot this summer."