The courtship of Lauren Ware ended on Saturday when the Bismarck Century senior two-sport standout announced she will attend the University of Arizona to play basketball and volleyball for the Wildcats.
The two-sport all-stater is three weeks into her rehab following surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament. She will not compete athletically during her senior year in school to be ready in the fall.
Flanked by Century Patriot teammates, Ware made her announcement via social media channels from the Century High School gym.
“I would like to thank all the schools that recruited me, I want to thank you for believing in me, but I am going to play both sports in college and I am going to the University of Arizona,” Ware said. “It just felt like the best fit for me. My relationship with the coaches and players helped me make my decision, and the way the coaches work together was a big deal to me playing both sports.
Ware said the conclusion of volleyball season will likely bleed into the non-conference portion of the basketball season if the Wildcats advance in the NCAA tournament. But Ware said that isn’t an issue with basketball coach Adia Barnes.
“At the Division I level, that’s not very common,” Ware said of two-sport athletes. “But that’s a reason I want to do it. I want to take on the challenge. Having the opportunity to do both is an amazing opportunity.”
The 6-foot, 4-inch junior included Minnesota, Tennessee, Texas and UCLA. Ware said all those schools remained active in the recruiting process even after the injury.
“That was one thing I was worried about, but they all stayed true to their promise and I appreciate that.”
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Ware is pleased with the pace of her rehab.
“It’s going very well,” said Ware, whose left knee was in a brace but was not on crutches for the announcement. “I thought it was going to be a really low process and I was really nervous, but it goes a lot quicker than I thought it was going too. I’m going to be back I hope stronger than before.”
If that indeed happens, Arizona will have one of the most decorated multi-sport women athletes to come out of North Dakota. Ware is a three-time Gatorade Player of the Year – twice in basketball and once in volleyball. A three-time all-state player in basketball and two-timer volleyball, Ware helped the Patriots to two straight state basketball titles and three straight volleyball crowns.
As a junior, Ware averaged 17.3 points, 11.1 rebounds and 4.6 blocks as Century went 27-0 and won the state title while extending the school’s winning streak to 35 games. In volleyball, she had 586 kills, 187 digs, 86 blocks and 48 aces as Century went 34-5.
Despite the quick rehab and a desire to get back on the floor, Ware has steeled herself to the fact that she cannot compete this season as she continues preparation for her freshman year in Tucson, Ariz.
“I won’t be able to play volleyball or basketball because I don’t want to reinjure it,” Ware said, explaining the hardest part of rehab.
“It’s definitely a mental thing,” Ware explained. “Obviously there’s going to be some physical pain but It’s definitely mental. It’s tough not to be able to ply my senior year. But there’s nothing I can do about it, I just had to get over it and have a good attitude about it.
“Torn ACLs are more common than I thought it was. A lot of people who have torn their ACL have come back strong.”