Oregon Ducks transfer Kel’el Ware has been a godsend for Indiana Basketball.
The loss of Trayce Jackson-Davis to the NBA devastated IU’s entire men’s basketball program. TJD turned in one of the all-time greatest careers in the history of Hoosier hoops and has received a decent amount of playing time during his rookie NBA season with the Golden State Warriors. Heading into the offseason, Mike Woodson faced a tall task in filling the void left in the frontcourt.
Scoring the services of versatile big man Kel’el Ware from the University of Oregon seemed to go a long way in addressing that void at that time. After what he did at the start of the season, the sting that came with Jackson-Davis’s departure has become much less strenuous. Being the only true center on the current roster, Ware has followed in his predecessor’s footsteps. The big man has averaged 17.1 points, 9.4 boards, 1.8 assists, 0.9 steals, and 1.5 blocks a night on 63.9/50/68.4 shooting splits. Aside from his freebies, he has been an efficient focal point of the team’s offense. On the defensive end, his length makes him a significant plus on the backside, while his athleticism enables him to hold his ground on switches. It would be fair to call him the anchor of this defense through eight games.
Ware has been outstanding for this team. He immediately established himself on opening night with a crucial double-double in a hard-fought win over gritty FGCU. Other than an outlier off night in the loss to UCONN, he has consistently been on point regarding efficiency. An A grade should be a fair assessment on both ends of the floor. Aside from Hunter Dickinson to Kansas, he has arguably been the most significant transfer portal scoop of the offseason. If he can continue this current trajectory, he should undoubtedly be in contention for a first-round NBA draft selection in next summer’s draft. Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman has him going to the New York Knicks with the 19th pick in his updated mock draft released earlier today (December 7th, 2023).
In Indiana Basketball’s next game, Ware will face a tough individual matchup in Auburn’s Johnni Broome. The big man is among the SEC’s best and should be anxious to come out on top in the battle of the bigs. It could translate via the scoreboard if Ware can conquer his frontcourt foe.