The Mississippi State men's basketball team's next big man is officially on the way and he's coming from just across town.
Starkville High center Gavin Ware signed his national letter of intent with the Bulldogs on Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA's early signing period that includes every sport except football.
"It's close to home," said Ware of his decision to sign with the Bulldogs. "It gives me endless opportunities to become somebody. They have the classes I want to take. I believe this is a good opportunity for me."
Ware is just beginning his senior season for Starkville, where he's averaging 14.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game for the Yellowjackets in the year's first two contests.
In Ware's junior campaign, he averaged 19 points, 10.5 rebounds and five blocks per game for SHS and head coach Greg Carter.
Carter, a former MSU Bulldog himself whose playing career at Mississippi State lasted from 1988-91, said he's happy to see Ware's success and where it has taken him.
"I'm proud of the fact that he's going to be able to further his education and at the same time, play college basketball at its highest level," said Carter. "I couldn't be happier that he's going to Mississippi State and continuing on academically and athletically."
MSU wasn't the only school that coveted Ware's services.
Other programs including Alabama and Georgetown offered scholarships to Ware, but in the end, Ware followed through with his verbal commitment to MSU that he made in June.
"As far as decommitting, I wouldn't have done that," said Ware. "I feel strong about my decision that I've made."
Making Ware's choice perhaps even easier is the fact that he says he already has relationships with several other players who are either expected to join or have already joined MSU's signing class.
"With the class I'm going in, I know them very well," said Ware. "I won't have a problem getting to know them."
Ware also said he believes he, along with all of the Bulldogs' signees, have the chance to help "make an accomplishment at Mississippi State."
Perhaps even better for Ware, he admits this is all just another stride towards helping him achieve his own personal goals.
"It's a big step forward," said Ware. "This gets me closer to my future and where I want to be in life."