As of right now, Lance Ware is one of four Wildcats to play significant minutes last season who decided to stay in Lexington for another year, and make no mistake about it–he is enjoying every second of it.
The last year for Ware has not been a kind one. In the 2020-21 season, Ware missed out on his freshman Kentucky experience. He averaged two points and three boards a contest in a 9-16 season, and a few weeks after the season ended he’s had to deal with the incomprehensible loss of a close teammate. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if he was shut off from the world, but you would never be able to tell it.
Anyone who has seen Ware at Kentucky’s satellite camps the last couple of weeks will tell you, he is a ray of sunshine and embracing his new leadership role. With a whistle in hand and a grin from ear to ear, it’s been obvious to everyone that Ware is maximizing his experience in his first true summer as a Kentucky Wildcat.
Some may even think he’s having a contest with Jacob Toppin to see who’s having the most fun. From an observation viewpoint, those two are having the times of their lives at these camps, as evident by the few clips that have made their way to social media.
— Brent Wainscott (@BrentWainscott_) June 9, 2021
Lance Ware getting the campers hyped up. pic.twitter.com/0UxRWTJ5aY
— Barkley Truax (@BarkleyTruax) June 4, 2021
The joy on the player’s faces is something that everyone in the BBN missed out on last year, including Ware and the rest of the ‘Cats.
“It’s been super fun (going to these camps) just because we didn’t get to do this last year,” Ware said. “Any opportunity we can get to interact with the community or even get outside and have fun outside of practice and workouts–it’s great…I like being around people. I like having people enjoy their time with me and being able to see the love–there’s no better feeling. I feel like I’m at home. The fans, they love us, they treat us like they’ve known us together and it’s great.”
Ware recalls the love the Wildcat faithful showed him during his recruiting visit back in 2019. Something that Ware reminisced on and something that likely brought Ware back to Lexington for a second season.
“I feel like (getting the Kentucky experience) will help a lot,” Ware said. “Twenty-thousand something fans at Rupp! We were talking about big blue during my senior year (in high school) when I came on my visit to big blue. I was talking to Keion (Brooks) who was my host about how fun that was and how mad I didn’t get a chance to experience that. So being in front of fans, obviously, they love us and we love you guys–the mutual love is great and I think it will help elevate our play.”
Elevated play is something that can fall on the shoulders of veteran leadership as well.
Last season, Keion Brooks was the only returning Wildcat who saw meaningful minutes the year prior, which is something that even Ware admitted hindered the team that went 9-16. With new transfers coming in, the majority of them as old or older than Ware, he recognizes the difference between playing at a place like Iowa compared to playing at Kentucky.
That difference is something he wants to emphasize with all the news guys. Now in his own leadership role, Ware feels like he, along with Toppin, Brooks, Dontaie Allen, and potentially Davion Mintz can help develop the fresh faces in Lexington.
“It’s different being at Kentucky,” Ware emphasized. “Even if you were in school–they might’ve been there two years, three years, four years. But at their school, it wasn’t like this. So having me, Jacob, Dontaie, and obviously Keion guide and give advice is big because we were looking for that last year and I feel like all the guys can give that advice out.”
This season Coach Cal will lead his oldest team ever at Kentucky. While a handful of them are freshmen, having a solid foursome of leaders is something that the best Cal teams have had, now that’s something that Lance Ware gets to bring to the table. Something to bring Kentucky back to the forefront of college basketball.