Two-sport phenom Lauren Ware could pick between basketball and volleyball as soon as this weekend, according to Arizona women’s basketball coach Adia Barnes.
Ware was originally going to play both sports as a freshman—volleyball in the fall and women’s basketball in the winter/spring—but that’s no longer possible now that the Pac-12 has postponed all sports until January amid concerns over the coronavirus.
“I believe she’s talking to (volleyball coach) Dave (Rubio) this afternoon and we’ll have a conversation this weekend,” Barnes said Friday. “We kind of talked a little bit briefly about it, but that’s a decision she has to make.”
Ware is on a basketball scholarship, but Barnes said that won’t be a factor in her decision.
“Dave and I have a good relationship and we (basketball) automatically take the scholarship, so that’s kind of just how it is,” Barnes said.
“We pay all the bills, but that’s OK,” she joked. “So Dave should buy me dinner, right? He got a good player for free.”
Ware said on an Instagram Live in June that she enjoys the pace of basketball but the excitement and communication in volleyball.
“Because I like to talk a lot, but they’re both competitive sports and I’m a competitive person,” she said.
As a junior, the 6-foot 5 Ware averaged 17.3 points, 11.1 rebounds, 4.6 blocks and 2.1 assists per game while leading Bismarck’s Century High School to a state championship and perfect 27-0 record.
That same year, she led Century volleyball to its fourth straight state title while logging 586 kills, 86 blocks, 187 digs and 48 aces.
Ware was named the North Dakota Gatorade Player of the Year for both sports, but didn’t get a chance to defend her titles, as she missed the 2019-20 season with a torn ACL.
“I’m more skilled at basketball; I think volleyball is more of a natural skill for me,” she said. “But I’d say (I’m more skilled at) basketball. I’ve had more training for that. ... Basketball, you can go by yourself and shoot.”
No matter which sport Ware chooses to play as a freshman, it will mark her first time playing one sport in a season. But if she chooses basketball, it could be her lone opportunity to go through an offseason program with the team.
“Every other year she plays volleyball, she’ll come into basketball late,” Barnes said. “So I think that’s a huge advantage for us and for her. And I think that maybe for her and just looking at the whole situation, it might be better (to play basketball). She’s just coming off injury, to play one sport, and will still have her fifth year to play volleyball if she starts with us with basketball.”
If Ware picks basketball, she projects as a key post player alongside senior Trinity Baptiste and juniors Cate Reese and Semaj Smith.
“So that’s just something she has to decide,” Barnes said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she chose to be with basketball this year because of those other reasons that she won’t have an offseason with us for the next three years. So I’m hoping that’s the decision she makes, but I don’t want it to be a pressure thing. I want it to be what she feels right for the right time. I know she’s roommates with Mara (Mote) and Tara (Manumaleuga), so she has basketball roommates.
“So I think there’s just a lot of pluses to her playing this basketball this year. On top of that, she’s a very great player.”