April 7, 2011

Miss. big man tracks Tide's NIT run

Basketball recruit Gavin Ware, a 2012 prospect, hasn't really thought much about recruiting yet, but the Starkville, Miss. big man has the University of Alabama among his top schools and watched as the Crimson Tide made its recent run to the NIT finals.

"I like Alabama's style of play," Ware said. "They play up-tempo which is what I'm used to. They get their big men the ball, and they play equally. You can see the guard shoot. You can see the big man post up. You see the wing players, they can drive. I like their game a lot."

Ware, who is 6-foot-8, 247-pounds, kept a close eye on Alabama's JaMychal Green, who plays the same position.

"He's big in there," Ware said. "He's very good. He has moves that he can fall on and score off of. When I saw him against Colorado, he was doing really well."

Green and Ware have a lot of similarities in their game. Both are interior players with good hands who can finish around the rim and can also step out to shoot a jump shot.

Rivals.com national basketball recruiting analyst Eric Bossi saw Ware play at the Nike EYBL Qualifier in Indianapolis last month.

"Gavin is a kid that we ranked last year just based off the fact that he is a big kid," Bossi said. "He had pretty good fundamentals and soft hands, and we had the thought that he could develop into a pretty good player.

"When I saw him a couple weeks ago, despite the fact that he was a little hampered by injury, he showed he was a strong kid who has really good touch around the rim. He can step out, face up and knock down some 12- to 15-foot jump shots."

In February, Ware suffered a bruised knee during the state playoffs, and he's just now getting back into game shape.

Ware has been hearing from a number of schools early in the recruiting process, but he indicated that Alabama, Georgetown and Mississippi State have shown the most interest.

Mississippi State's campus is less than five minutes from his house, leading many to believe the Bulldogs are the team to beat for his signature, but Ware says that's not true.

"When I looked on the Internet, I saw where somebody put, 'Whoever wants him is going have to take him from (Mississippi) State.' That's not true," Ware said.

"I'm open to any program who shows interest in me, and I'll do my research as far as the distance and the academics they have, because you can't get anywhere with basketball without your academics."

Ware's AAU teammate Devonta Pollard, a top 30 prospect from Miss., has said that the duo wants to play together at the next level. Ware feels the same way, but it's too early to label the two a package deal.

"If it comes down to us having to split, I think it would be a hard decision, but we've got to make it for the best," Ware said.

At this point, Ware plans to wait until after his senior season at Starkville High School wraps up before making a decision.

Reach Greg Ostendorf at greg@tidesports.com.

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