By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – There have been two words synonymous with Gavin Ware dating back to high school – weight and conditioning.
Both of those attributes have been a concern for the 6-foot-9 forward throughout his career. Ware arrived at Mississippi State last year with his weight hovering around 300 pounds. He was able to shed 25 pounds before the season began but still felt sluggish from a conditioning standpoint.
Ware went to work during the offseason not only building up his endurance but also dieting down to 263 pounds when his sophomore year started.
It has shown up on the stat sheet as well. Although he continues to average 25 minutes per game, Ware has increased his output to 10.6 points and 7.5 rebounds.
“It has helped tremendously,” Ware said. “I’m doing stuff that I wasn’t able to do last year. After shedding all that weight I can run faster and I’ve starting guarding on the perimeter a lot more. It’s been a key component.”
And the Bulldogs have definitely needed Ware on the court this year as the team’s lone true big man. Senior center Wendell Lewis was dismissed from the team a few days before the season opener leaving lots of minutes at the five-spot for Ware.
But that is nothing new. He drew 27 starts as a true freshman last season after Lewis went down with a knee injury. He ended up earning SEC All-Freshman honors averaging 8.4 points and finished 12th in the SEC with 6.4 boards.
However, help should be on the way for Ware next season. 6-foot-11 Fallou Ndoye, who is forced to sit out this season due to the NCAA, will finally be able to dress along with three-star signee Oliver Black.
“That’s going to be a big help,” Ware said. “Coach (George) Brooks is working with me and Fallou every day on our post moves and positioning. With those two coming in it’s going to be a great help as far as the depth that we have in the post.”
Ware was a four-star prospect out of Starkville High School choosing to remain at home over offers from Alabama and Georgetown.
One of the advantages of staying in Starkville allows Ware to play in front of his friends and family throughout the year. But sometimes they can be his biggest critics as well.
“My freshman year I was really excited about it,” Ware said. “Now I’ve matured and become mellow about it. I take all the negative and positive criticism they give me and use it to motivate me. Being a good hometown boy, I thank all my supporters out there.”