For much of his recruitment, Starkville (Miss.) High School's Gavin Ware has entertained the thoughts of making his decision late in his senior year. But on Thursday, the 2012 center prospect decided to keep his basketball talents near home and committed to Mississippi State.
Joined by his father, younger brother and Starkville head coach Greg Carter, Ware announced his MSU intentions at a press conference on Thursday at the school's library.
"The reason we are all here today is that I have reached my decision and I will be going to Mississippi State University," said Ware. "The reason why I chose this school is it gives me endless possibilities with academics and athletics. It is also close to home and gives me so many opportunities to be successful, now and after college whether I make it in the NBA or in academics."
Ware had originally planned to make his decision in the spring. But he said a recent visit to MSU changed his mindset.
"When I took my unofficial visit, little did I know and I thought it was just about basketball there and was a downslide for academics," said Ware. "But then I saw all the possibilities they have with academics and the athletic-academic facility they have is amazing. So about two days ago we talked about it and we went back and forth on my decision. So we felt comfortable and I felt this was a great opportunity for me to stay at home and in this environment. So I decided to go ahead and get it out of the way."
And staying close to home also pleased his father.
"I am just glad he made his decision and went where he wanted to go," said Gavin's dad Calvin Ware. "I am glad he made his own decision and I am glad he is close to home, too. When he would go off for a week or so with basketball (in the summer), he would call on Wednesday saying he was ready to be back at home (laughing). So we are glad he will be at Mississippi State."
Ware is rated as a four-star prospect by Rivals.com and rated the nation's 13th-best center prospect. Ware chose the Bulldogs over other offers from Alabama, Tennessee, Georgetown and Missouri.
"He is a quality young man outside of athletics and he has been raised the right way," said Carter. "That has a lot to do with his dad and grandmother raising him and because of that, he will go far in athletics. He has developed a lot this summer and is more of a presence inside now and is a big factor now.
"Mississippi State has known about Gavin since the eighth grade and Gavin's played AAU ball since the seventh grade. So I knew he would be a Division I prospect before I even got him (in high school)."
Ware averaged 19 points, 10.5 rebounds and five blocked shots as a junior despite missing Starkville's postseason run to the Class 6A state tournament due to a minor knee injury. But Ware bounced back nicely this summer on the AAU circuit with the Southern Phenoms.
And he plans to soon bring his inside presence to the SEC.
"I have a big frame and I can be the big guy and we could do some good things," said Ware, who plans to officially sign in November. "I want to give the team that big presence in the post and defend and rebound.
"I talked to (MSU 2011 signee) Rodney Hood and asked him how it was at Mississippi State. He said it was a good program and that I could learn a lot with this program."
With his rebounding abilities and defensive presence, Ware helped the Phenoms capture the AAU state title as well as the prestigious Bob Gibbons tournament in North Carolina earlier this month.
Ware becomes the third commitment for head coach Rick Stansbury concerning the Class of 2012. Ware joins the likes of Montgomery, Ala., shooting guard Craig Sword and Jackson, Miss., native and guard Fred Thomas. Like Ware, Sword is rated a four-star prospect by Rivals.com while Thomas is rated as a three-star prospect.
All three MSU commitments are rated in Rivals.com's Top 150 for the 2012 class with Ware at No. 77, Sword at No. 78 and Thomas at No. 143.
Ware is also AAU teammates with another top in-state prospect in Kemper County (Miss.) standout Devonta Pollard.
"I will talk to him about Mississippi State," said Ware. "But it is his decision. I will pursuade him but it is his decision."