Sophomore center Kel’el Ware scored a career-high 28 points on 12-of-13 from the field against Harvard on Sunday.
His field goal percentage of 92.3% marked the best percentage by a Hoosier on at least 10 made field goals in the last 25 seasons.
The 7-footer’s impressive effort from the field was much more than just an array of dunks over an undersized mid-major opponent. And he’s also showing a lot of promise as a passer.
Today we take a look at the many ways Ware is fueling the Indiana offense.
Playing off of Reneau
An early strategy to try to slow Indiana’s big man duo of Ware and Malik Reneau has been to double-team Reneau, who has proven to be a very difficult low post cover for opposing power forwards.
But Ware has been making opponents pay when Reneau has been able to see the double coming.
In the first video, both defenders go to Reneau’s drive to the paint, and Ware instinctively dives to the rim for a lob. We’ve seen multiple variations of this throughout the young season when teams double Reneau. High major opponents will likely have a better scheme and personnel to crack down on Ware in these instances, but with his length he’ll be tough to stop if the doubles continue.
In the second video Ware is ready once again, this time for a tip-in when Reneau forces a tough shot against a double team. With what Ware is putting on film, it will be very interesting to see how many teams double Reneau going forward. That will likely be a personnel driven decision.
One underappreciated aspect of Ware’s game is his ability as a passer. And it doesn’t hurt that he has the vision and length to make passes over the top of defenders.
Teams have tried to zone Indiana early in the season, and here are two different ways Ware’s length has been a weapon in those situations.
On the first possession, Ware is placed in the high post and as the zone collapses on him he immediately feeds Kaleb Banks in the corner for a three.
On the second possession, Ware is placed in the short corner. As the zone flattens in response, he finds Mackenzie Mgbako for an opposite side wing three.
This third possession comes against man defense. IU is comfortable with Ware on the perimeter, and again, his vision over the defense is a factor. Also, with Ware pulling the opposing center out to the arc, things are much more open in the paint.
As we mentioned at the top, Ware’s 12-of-13 day didn’t all come in the paint. For a 7-footer Ware is highly-skilled, and here are two great examples.
In the first set IU Ware fakes a handoff to Trey Galloway and takes a 20-foot pull-up jumper off the dribble. It’s a difficult shot, but also very difficult to guard for opposing big men.
Here Ware makes his third three of the season, a shot he set up with a nifty pass fake. Like the previous play, Ware shows he is not bothered by shooting with an undersized defender in his vicinity.
Ware rounds out his skillset with an inside game.
He’s shown he really likes to use one power dribble and long strides to get to open space on the floor, and then shoot a turnaround fadeaway jumper that is just about impossible to block.
Ware hasn’t always shown comfort with his left hand, but he looked very natural converting this lefty jump hook for an and-one opportunity.
This time the double came to Ware with Reneau on the perimeter, and Ware neutralized the extra man by turning baseline and shooting with his left hand. Because of his length, Ware has the rare ability to shoot over doubles with hooks.
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