I’ll be the first to admit the fiasco that was the recruitment of 4-star guard Kevin Ware was ridiculous. The constant mind-changing and commitment wavering grew tiresome, leading myself and many Louisville fans to say, “Good riddance”.
However, fans must remember that Ware was a highly sought after recruit this summer and has the potential to heal any wounds his recruitment may have caused.
As most know, Ware committed to Rick Pitino last week and will enroll soon to join an already elite Louisville recruiting class in 2011. Getting to this point was difficult to say the least. After committing to Bruce Pearl and Tennessee early in his high school career, Ware was granted his release and re-opened his recruitment after Pearl was fired in late march after NCAA allegations surfaced.
Louisville became an instant front-runner for the Georgia guard due to the fact they needed some help behind Peyton Siva at point guard. Central Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Ole Miss were also in the running for his services.
Pitino had and in-home visit on a Sunday and Ware was set to play in the Derby Classic in front of Louisville fans the following weekend. Shocking to most, Ware decided to strangely commit to UCF on Monday, the day after Pitino pitched his program to Ware’s family. Rumors swirled that the commitment wasn’t Ware’s decision after he told some reporters Wednesday that Louisville still had a great shot to land his services. I was present that day and Ware seemed like someone who wasn’t making his own decisions. However, some wondered if this wavering was just to soften the blow from Cardinal Nation, who were perplexed that someone would ever dream of picking UCF over one of the top programs in the nation.
If you follow college recruiting like most in this area do, nothing seems to be out of the realm of possibility. Yet, this ware situation was weird even to the most veteran of recruitniks. It wasn’t surprising when Ware’s recruitment became the basis for national stories by Pat Forde of ESPN and Pete Thamel of The New York Times uncovering some shady ties UCF and coach Donnie Jones had to alleged “runners” Kenneth Caldwell and Brandon Bender. Ware de-committed from UCF the day before the article(s) were released. His recruitment had been re-opened…again.
Ware visited Louisville over the Memorial Day weekend and committed shortly after, ending what was one of the craziest recruiting sagas anyone can remember.
Ware was a perfect example of a kid that was chewed up and spit out by a recruiting system that is completely out of control. All these low-life folks like Caldwell and Bender pretend like they are out for the better good of the kids, but are really just trying to fatten their own pockets. Remember, all this happened to Ware before he went to his senior prom. No one in their right mind can expect a kid without a good foundation to make a solid decision at such a young age.
Some Cardinal fans feel like Ware “isn’t good enough” to play for the Cards. Almost treating a top-100 player like he is used goods for committing to another school in the first place. The situation is comparable to a guy fawning over a woman who is single and showing interest, only to do a complete 180 when she’s seen talking to another guy. Regardless of what happened in the circus that was his recruitment, Ware is going to be a Cardinal and should be accepted.
Ware was unimpressive in the Derby Classic at the Yum! Center, but he was right in the middle of a week where Pitino was at his house, he unwillingly committed to UCF, was the subject in a recruiting investigation and then had to play in front of fans who were bitter he was going elsewhere. That is a lot for anyone to handle, much less a kid that can barely buy a lottery ticket. Ware is not rated in the top 100 by both Scout and Rivals for no reason. The kid can play.
Kyle Kuric is going to be one of the Cardinal leaders this year. Ware is ranked higher than he was as a senior by both services. Recent stars Terrence Williams, Taquan Dean and Larry O’Bannon were all either ranked lower or similar to that of Ware. I wouldn’t count this guy out quite yet.
Ware will have some growing pains switching from a shooting guard in high school to a point in Pitino’s complex system. He may not have the impact of the aforementioned players, but he has talent and athleticism, something that the Cards have been lacking the last two years.
Ware needs to feel the love of Louisville fans and not hear them question whether or not he can compete in big-time college hoops. The guy was sent through the ringer that is college hoops recruiting and luckily landed on his feet at a program that will be ranked in the pre-season top 10 next year. I’ll admit, some of Pitino’s recruiting decisions in the past few years have been questionable, but I have a feeling Ware will end up as a recruiting victory.
Ware deserves a chance to prove he has the ability to be a productive college player. He needs his fair shot. Rick Pitino gave him that opportunity. Louisville fans need to give him that opportunity, as well.