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THE RECRUITING GUY: Ware keeps motor running on high

by Richard Davenport | May 7, 2021 at 2:20 a.m.

ESPN 4-star center and University of Arkansas target Kel'el Ware's narrowed his list of schools to 10 on April 3 and another reduction appears to be coming soon.

"I don't know when the next time I'm going to narrow it down again, but it's going to be soon," Ware said.

Ware, 7-0, 221 pounds, of North Little Rock currently lists Arkansas, Auburn, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Florida, Texas, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech and Oral Roberts as his top schools.

The decision-making process of getting down to one school will involve how a coaching staff utilizes his position.

"How they use their bigs," said Ware, whose wing span measured at 7 feet, 3-inches last year. "If their bigs dominate and if I'm able to come in and replace the big and be able to dominate."

Arkansas along with Texas, Southern Cal, California and Memphis are the schools aggressively communicating with him.

"They text me every now and then," Ware said. "Give me a call just to check up on me."

Ware said his talks with Razorbacks Coach Eric Musselman are going well.

"He's been calling me and checking up on me," Ware said. "He said I can impact their program a lot because I'm able to get up and down the floor. Score, block shots, get the rebound and like the pick and pop."

He was named the MVP of the Class 6A state title game after scoring 19 points and grabbing 8 rebounds with 2 steals in the Charging Wildcats' 65-55 victory over Little Rock Central to finish the season at 21-2.

Ware averaged 16.4 points, 8.8 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per game as a junior and was named to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette All-Arkansas Preps second team.

During the early part of his sophomore season, North Little Rock Coach Johnny Rice encouraged him to play with a higher motor which propelled him to being selected to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Underclassman team as well as making 6A All-Conference and All-State.

"When my motor is running, it just makes me want to play more," he said. "Makes me want to play harder and just win."

ESPN also rates Ware the No. 22 center in the nation for the 2022 class, but with his continued strong play, he will likely move up in the rankings.

His play has bled over to the spring with All Arkansas Red where he's averaging 23 points, 10 rebounds and 2.5 block shots for the Under Armour Rise program.

All Arkansas Red Coach Cory Jones said he's seen Ware's confidence grow.

"Ever since the state championship game when he won the MVP, you could kind of see him growing with confidence," Jones said. "It's shown on the floor. He's been more dominant. He's been more assertive."

Ware scored 33 points and had 5 rebounds for All Arkansas Red while going against ESPN 5-star and Kansas forward commitment Gradey Dick, 6-7, 200, of KC Run GMC. He had 27 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks while paired against 2023 ESPN 5-star center Baye Fall, 6-11, 217, of the Colorado Hawks.

"He looked like the best player on the floor," said Jones of both match-ups. "I can definitely see why Kansas wanted Gradey Dick, and you definitely see why Kansas and numerous schools wanted Kel'el because he showed his versatility in his game."

Ware is working to unofficially visit Southern Cal, Auburn, Memphis, and California in June. He also plans to set up an unofficial visit to Arkansas.

He attributes his offensive improvement to taking his practice to the games.

"I just started working on the moves I've been doing in practice and I just started doing them in a game and they just been working," Ware said.

E-mail Richard Davenport at rdavenport@arkansasonline.com

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