Starkville's Gavin Ware, the Starkville Daily News Boys High School Player of the Year, goes up for a dunk last season. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
For Gavin Ware, the past three years have been about developing his basketball game and becoming the young man he is today.
The Starkville High School senior was selected as Starkville Daily News' Boys Player of the Year.
"He has put in a lot of hard work," Starkville head coach Greg Carter said of Ware's development. "He has gotten better and better each year. Over the years, he has improved his game. As a sophomore, he came in and was a little over weight. He lost about 30 pounds. He improved his scoring ability in the post. He came back as a junior and you could see him starting to show signs of being a dominant player, and by his senior year, he was that dominant player."
Ware has pushed himself over the past three years, but gives a lot of credit to Carter. He was inspired by him and was happy that Carter had a background with Mississippi State.
"Coach Carter came from Mississippi State so his working routine was on point for me," Ware said. "I wanted him to guide me and show me which way to go. We started making progress. I started getting on up in years and we started working more and more on conditioning and the basic fundamentals. When it all comes down to it, it's just the basic fundamentals that you are playing."
Coming into his senior season, Ware's expectations were to become a better player. He also wanted to develop his leadership abilities.
"To become a player that can become a leader," Ware said of his expectations of his senior season. "Give opportunities for everyone else on the floor."
The Yellowjackets came into the season with high expectations from themselves and many people in the state of Mississippi.
SHS won its division and finished second in North Class 5A. That all lead to an appearance in the 5A State Tournament.
Before that happened, two losses in the Columbus Tournament put things in perspective for Ware and his teammates.
"We got a little arrogant early on," Ware said. "After losing to Provine and Ridgeway (Tenn.), we had to clear our minds and get right. We couldn't have that same mindset going into the playoffs. We got right but Wayne County wanted it bad enough."
For Carter, he can't imagine what this year might have been if Ware hadn't been a part of the team.
His scoring ability caused open shots for other players on the team and Carter thinks that is something that could have been hard to replace.
"He was important for our team," Carter said. "He was the guy who made it easy for us to get those jump shots. It is easy to get open shots especially when you have a post presence that can score. A guy his size with great hands, good foot work, and athletic - you don't have to do a whole lot to get open jump shots. I think by the end of the year, people were doubling and tripling him."
Away from the court Ware finds himself playing music or just being a part of the Starkville community.
"I like music," Ware said. "I play the piano and bass guitar. I like having something to do besides basketball like sing and be in the community."
Carter has seen a side of Ware that other people may hard find to believe.
"He is always joking around," Carter said. "He is a big 'ole kid.' I tell him that all the time. People would think he is the bully type, but he's not. He is a fun-loving kid."
Ware has great family support.
"He has a great family," Carter said. "He is real close to his family."
His closeness with his family affected his college choice.
"They are important because they helped me make my college choice," Ware said. "They are a big part of my life and if they weren't, I would leave and go far off. They are my life."
Ware has signed to attend Mississippi State and play basketball for the Bulldogs.
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