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Lauren Ware explains why she’ll start Arizona career with basketball instead of volleyball

Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

The Arizona volleyball and basketball seasons will both be played in the spring semester this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, forcing two-sport athlete Lauren Ware to pick one or the other for her freshman season.

She chose basketball.

The 6-foot-5 post player explained why on an Instagram Live chat with head coach Adia Barnes on Sunday.

“Originally I was going to play with volleyball first and I would have joined the basketball team later once volleyball was over, but since it got moved to the spring I thought it would be a better decision to start with basketball since we might play earlier anyways,” Ware told Barnes.

“And then next year, and then probably the years after that, I will never have an actual preseason with you guys, so it just made more sense to start out with I actually can have an offseason and get to work with you guys and put in the plays and stuff like that. So it would just help me in the long run, just with being ahead and understanding the system when I come in later.”

“For sure, I think that was one of the best decisions,” Barnes replied. “She’ll miss a lot over the years, so I think that was a really, really good (decision).”

As Ware alluded, it’s still possible she plays both sports this season if the volleyball season ends later than basketball season. The Pac-12 has not released any scheduling models for volleyball, which usually plays from August to December. Basketball season typically runs from November to March, but neither sport is permitted to compete until at least Jan. 1.

Ware, who is roommates with basketball players Tara Manumaleuga and Mara Mote, reported to Arizona last Friday but actually worked out with the volleyball team on Monday and Tuesday before joining the basketball team later in the week.

“That was in the indoor facility. We just did some bodyweight stuff,” Ware said. “It wasn’t anything too crazy, but just with masks on, it’s definitely a little more difficult. It’s a little weird, but we have to get used to it.”

The Bismarck, North Dakota native is coming off an ACL tear that she suffered last summer that caused her to miss her senior seasons in basketball and volleyball.

Before that, she was the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year in both sports.

On the basketball side, she averaged 17.3 points, 11.1 rebounds, 4.6 blocks and 2.1 assists per game while leading Century High School to a state championship and perfect 27-0 record.

She also led Century to its fourth straight state title, logging 586 kills, 86 blocks, 187 digs and 48 aces as the team’s star outside hitter and middle blocker.

Ware previously said that she is more skilled as a basketball player and enjoys the fast pace of the game.

Barnes said on signing day that Ware has “tremendous footwork, a great touch around the basket going right or left, a good 17-foot shot” and good timing as a shot-blocker because of her volleyball background.

The five-star recruit joins a loaded frontcourt that also includes juniors Cate Reese and Semaj Smith, Virginia Tech grad transfer Trinity Baptiste, and fellow freshman Marta Garcia.

Add that to a backcourt that will star Aari McDonald, Sam Thomas, Helena Pueyo and Oklahoma transfer Shaina Pellington, and the Wildcats should be a top-10 team whenever the 2020-21 season tips off.