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Arizona coach says Bismarck Century graduate Ware is going to be 'star' in Pac-12 Conference

Former Bismarck Century star Lauren Ware is averaging 6.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game through her first four games for the Arizona Wildcats

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Arizona freshman Lauren Ware, left, is averaging 6.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game through her first four games with the Wildcats. Mike Mattina / Arizona Athletics
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Tucson, Ariz.

A couple weeks ago, Joe Ware was at the McKale Center to watch his daughter Lauren Ware play in the first game of her NCAA Division I women’s basketball career with the Arizona Wildcats.

Joe noticed Lauren, a Bismarck Century graduate, looked a bit anxious early in the nonconference game against Northern Arizona.

“It was kind of funny because I’m watching her and like her first couple shots, she rushed them,” Joe said. “She rushed a couple shots and missed two easy ones. I just kind of forgot that she hadn’t played in a year and a half.”

A multi-sport star, the 6-foot-5 Ware didn’t compete in any sports during her senior year at Century due to a knee injury that required surgery. Despite the time away from competition, Ware is off to a solid start four games into her college career for the undefeated and No. 6-ranked Wildcats. She’s averaging 6.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocked shots, while playing in 18.0 minutes per game.

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“Lauren is phenomenal,” Arizona head coach Adia Barnes said during a recent press conference. “She’s going to be a star in our conference. She’s going to be a key player for us for a long time. I’m not surprised at all by how she’s performing and the minutes she’s getting.”

Ware’s best statistical performance came last Sunday in a 78-77 home victory against the University of Southern California. Ware had 12 points, 12 rebounds and one blocked shot in 27 minutes.

“Coming in and being able to get some good minutes off the bench and help the team win is really exciting for me, knowing that we have a really good chance to be really good this year,” Lauren said of her role this season.

Family members were allowed at Arizona’s home game against Northern Arizona on Nov. 29 so Joe could be there in person. There have been no fans allowed since in the next three home games due to the coronavirus pandemic. Joe said it was “special” to be at his daughter’s first college game. It was also a memorable moment for Lauren.

“Before the game I was thinking ‘Wow, this is like my first game in a long time.’ … I definitely thought about it,” said Lauren, who tore her ACL during a summer volleyball tournament in July of 2019. “That’s never really happened to me where I was not playing a game for a year.”

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Arizona freshman Lauren Ware, left, is averaging 6.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game through her first four games with the Wildcats. Mike Mattina / Arizona Athletics

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In that first game back, Ware had eight points and five rebounds in 18 minutes, shooting 4-for-8 from the floor against the Lumberjacks. Ware is shooting 60% (12 of 20) from the field through four games and ranks second on the team in rebounds.

“I’m very proud of what she’s doing so far and needless to say I’m not surprised,” said Ron Metz, who was Lauren’s basketball coach at Century. “Whatever life throws at her, she takes it head on and does the best she can.”

She's already had to adjust at Arizona.

Lauren planned to play both volleyball and basketball for the Wildcats, but those plans changed due to the pandemic. The Pac-12 volleyball season was postponed due to COVID-19 so Ware had to choose one or the other for this school year. Ware intends to play both sports next school year.

“It was definitely difficult in the beginning because that was my original plan to come here and start out with volleyball,” Lauren said.

Barnes has raved about what she’s seen from Lauren on the basketball court thus far, coming off a decorated high school career at Century in which Lauren excelled in both basketball and volleyball. Barnes added Lauren’s potential goes beyond her natural ability.

“She’s a natural communicator so she’s a freshman and she’s talking like a senior would do and more than most seniors would do,” Barnes said. “She plays so smart and she’s just going to continue to get better and better.”

Arizona has won all three of its conference games this season, including a 68-65 victory against No. 9-ranked UCLA on Dec. 4. Ware had four points and five rebounds in that game.

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“We have a chance to do something special I think,” Lauren said. “Even if I don’t score a lot in the game, just making sure I make a presence on the defensive end. That’s something I’ve been focusing on.”

Barnes said Lauren is a special athlete.

“She has a chance to be really good in the Pac-12 in volleyball and basketball,” Barnes said. “She has a chance to be a very, very good play and she’s willing to work and she wants to be good.”

Related Topics: BASKETBALLINFORUM BISMARCK
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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