Tennesssee basketball recruit Kevin Ware requests release, would consider UGA and Georgia Tech (UPDATED)

Kevin Ware prediction

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Louisville, Florida State, Syracuse, UGA and Georgia Tech are among the top choices for Rockdale County point guard Kevin Ware, who has requested a release from his Tennessee basketball scholarship with Monday’s firing of Volunteers coach Bruce Pearl.

“I haven’t talked to any of those schools but those would be the ones I would be most interested in,” Ware told the AJC on Monday night. “I have no idea if any of them have scholarships available or would be interested in me, too. Right now, I can’t talk to anybody because I’m still signed with Tennessee, so I don’t know. I basically would be interested in whomever is interested in me.”

The 6-foot-4 senior has been committed to Tennessee since his sophomore year. Ware said he picked the Volunteers over offers from Georgetown, UGA, Florida State, Cincinnati, Xavier, and Georgia Tech, among others. He averaged 19 points and 9 assists while leading Rockdale County to its first appearance in the state championship game since 1987.

“It was real shocking to hear that Coach Pearl got fired; it was a sad day,” Ware said. “People were telling me about it all afternoon at school — and even then I still didn’t believe it. I never thought he was going to get fired.”

What’s really interesting is that Ware decided to request his release last week — long before Monday’s developments. Ware told the AJC did he “didn’t have a good feeling about the situation” after talking over the phone with Pearl last Thursday. His father filled out paperwork the next day and mailed it in to both the NCAA and Tennessee’s athletics department. It had not been approved by Monday.

Court vision? Coach vision? Rockdale County PG Kevin Ware (No. 35) requested his scholarship release before Tennessee's Bruce Pearl was fired on Monday (AJC)

Court vision? Coach vision? Rockdale County PG Kevin Ware (No. 35) requested his scholarship release before Tennessee's Bruce Pearl was fired on Monday (AJC)

“I asked Coach Pearl ‘What was the situation for you next year? Would it be smart for me to back out?’” Ware recalled. “He told me ‘Do whatever you think is best for you.’ At the same time, he understood the biggest reason I was going to Tennessee was to play for him.”

What made Ware go ahead and request the release with Pearl’s future unknown at the time? “Because it was a lot of stress on me,” Ware said. “I already had wanted to see how things were going to play out at Tennessee and get my release, so if Pearl wasn’t going to be there I could start the recruiting process back up quickly. I didn’t know if he was really going to get fired. But it was a lot of stress trying to deal with the situation hearing stuff from different people every other day, and having to go to school and try to focus on academics.”

Ware said he did not talk with Pearl or any of Tennessee’s coaches on Monday. He expects to hear from Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton within the next couple of days and said he will proceed with his request for a release. Said Ware, “Hopefully Mike Hamilton will grant it. I haven’t ever given Tennessee any problems. I’ve never thought about de-committing to Tennessee since I committed to them in the 10th grade. I honestly don’t see why it would be a problem for them releasing me.”

Ware is one of Georgia's top 5-10 high school athletes, regardless of sport (AJC)

Ware is one of Georgia's top 5-10 high school athletes, regardless of sport (AJC)

If released as expected, Ware said he would try to contact Georgia Tech and UGA, among other schools, to see if there was reciprocal interest. “I wouldn’t lean to Georgia Tech as much because Coach [Paul] Hewitt just got fired and I don’t know the situation there without a new coach. I would take a good look at Georgia because of some of the guys coming in, especially Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (the 5-star recruit from Greenville High). We played against each other twice when I was in high school, and I think we would play well together in the same backcourt in college. However, I don’t know the scholarship situation at each school or what they’re looking for.”

Ware didn’t even rule out playing for Tennessee under a different coach. “It’s a great atmosphere at Tennessee for college basketball,” he said. “I’d want to meet with the new coach and make sure I would be a good fit for his system, and he would be good fit for me and my family. I hate it that Coach Pearl won’t be there, but I guess that’s the way it goes.”

My two cents: Like most high school basketball players, Ware still needs to develop his overall basketball game. The biggest thing that stands out to me about Ware is his superior athleticism. He is one of the state’s top 5-10 high school athletes, regardless of sport. And that is saying a lot in talent-loaded Georgia.

62 comments Add your comment

Ronny

March 21st, 2011
11:12 pm

First!

Hope Ware comes to UGA! If Tompkins leaves, we’ll need scoring

German Shepherd Dawg

March 21st, 2011
11:15 pm

Ronny, he’s a point guard. They aren’t typically known as prolific scorers.

Ronny

March 21st, 2011
11:19 pm

Yes, German, I know that. I’m from Conyers and know the kid. I used to coach high school basketball. I’m not saying he’ll have to score 20 plus. But, if Tompkins leaves, that 20 plus will need to made up. 8-10 from Ware would be good

Hoops Dawg

March 21st, 2011
11:20 pm

But boy will we ever need a point guard, especially after Ware and Robinson leave after next season.

Not Mark Fox

March 21st, 2011
11:24 pm

Actually German, good PG’s usually average 10 or more. A great one close to 20. Ronny…I’m not sure if he’ll get 8-10 in year 1, which will be needed if Thompkins leaves. Still, having another athlete would be good. Plus, German, Kevin Ware could play the 2 and Dustin Ware the 1, or vice versa

RAMBLINWRECK

March 21st, 2011
11:29 pm

It was between GT and Georgetown as his #2 favorite, so i think it may come down to those if the new GT coach can impress ware. He is a very skilled player. I think he will help any team out without a doubt. Best of luck young man and i hope GT is the place you end up!

GT65

March 21st, 2011
11:29 pm

We have a new coach coming and great future and you are welcome to be part of it. What ever you do God Bless.

The U

March 21st, 2011
11:46 pm

Perfect, Coach Fox should go real hard for him. Robinson is a combo guard not a true point man. Ware is more suited for shooting and less ball handling. Get a true point in the triangle system it’ll gel even without Trey. Hope he comes back though.

David

March 22nd, 2011
1:16 am

Perfect fit for GT. Be a Jacket Kevin!

VinceVanGo

March 22nd, 2011
1:29 am

I was just blogging earlier on another AJC story that we need a point guard of the future. Could this be him? I hope Georgia has another scholarship left because they got a commit today from a power forward from the northeast which makes four commits. But a point guard of this caliber could give them some bench strength next year and then take over the starters job as a sophomore. That’s probably a better scenario than he would have had at TN. By the way I always thought Pearl seemed like a sleazeball, unethical, kind of like Jim Harrick. I guess that turned out to be right.

DD

March 22nd, 2011
1:34 am

Ware is a SG he cant play PG.

GARY

March 22nd, 2011
3:48 am

FUNNY HOW THINGS HAXE A WAY WORKING OUT,HERE ‘S THE POINT WE BEEN LOOKING FOR,CALDWELL AND WARE ,FUTURE BACKCOURT AND WOULD HAVE A YEAR TO WORK TOGETHER BEFORE THEY TAKE OVER FOR THE 2 CURRENT GUARDS, GET HIM FOX AND IF YOU SWING IT GET ROYAL TOO.

Lagdawg

March 22nd, 2011
4:14 am

Coach Fox should jump on this one. I know UGA is a second choice, but a gift is a gift. UGA really needs a real PG.

tony

March 22nd, 2011
6:03 am

Mark Fox need to sign this young man? Poor ball control and lack of perimeter shooting at the guard positions hurt the dawgs during the regular season and in the ncaa tournament. Adding Kevin Ware will make the dawgs a better team next season.

tony

March 22nd, 2011
6:13 am

can he handle stress

March 22nd, 2011
6:21 am

too stressful for me is what he claims…..what about playing ball in the ACC….

dawgerbrown

March 22nd, 2011
6:27 am

Sounds like a good kid with a good head on his shoulders. Would love to see him come to UGA. Guard play,especially point guard play is such a difference maker in college. Come on to UGA Kevin. Get a great college experience away from home, but be close enough for your family and friends to come watch you play. Coach Fox is a class act.

Larry

March 22nd, 2011
6:43 am

German Shepherd Dawg,

Tech has had Mark Price, Kenny Anderson, Stephon Marbury as point guards. I think they scored quite a bit!

Larry

March 22nd, 2011
6:50 am

“It was real shocking to hear that Coach Pearl got fired; it was a sad day,” Ware said. “People were telling me about it all afternoon at school — and even then I still didn’t believe it. I never thought he was going to get fired.”

I’m not sure a kid this brutally naive could qualify at GT. Would do so easily at an Auburn, Ole Miss, Missy State or LSU.

But then, GT did have Kenny Anderson, Stephon Marbury, and Derek Favors, three of the weakest minds ever to walk the earth.

Just be loyal to your state kid! It is the Georgia property tax payers that funded your elementary, middle and high school education and it is Georgia fans that have been clapping for you in the court. Pick either UGA or GT and reward all of these Georgia folks that have supported you!

Douglas

March 22nd, 2011
7:05 am

Maybe one of our sports writers can find out if we have any scholarships left at UGA.

just a question

March 22nd, 2011
7:12 am

Let the kid make his choice with no pressure

Proof!

March 22nd, 2011
8:26 am

UT should not release him! OVER and over they are told to not choose the coach but the school so give him some tissues and tell him to grow up.

black1

March 22nd, 2011
8:37 am

Aye Larry that was stupid

jackyldo

March 22nd, 2011
8:49 am

what is Georgia’s scholarship situation ? They have 3 signed plus a verbal to sign next open period.. They are graduating 2 Seniors ?

Just a question

March 22nd, 2011
8:50 am

@Proof your not bright at all as much as the NCAA and the schools use these kids they should have some rights to leave, if you followed the whole story it was more than the coach being fired it was the AD lyining and the lack of loyalty to his coaching staff right before the NCAA tournament. go look at the volnation blogs

DawginLex

March 22nd, 2011
9:03 am

Proof, you are dumber than a bag of hammers if you don’t think kids go to certain schools because of the coach.

Hewitt Fan

March 22nd, 2011
9:27 am

Kevin, you have been nothing but a model student, and a great player for us(celtics)..GT should not even be considered unless the new coach is either Neal or Pearl..UGA would be great..Imagine you and Caldwell at the wings together…wow..GT fans will turn on you like they did the past Celtics who attended GT…Remember what you and big Nick Jacobs were talking about and how you both hated that the GT fan base trashed Derrick and Gani..we should never forget that…Right now UGA seems like a perfect fit!

DawgDog

March 22nd, 2011
9:27 am

Perfect fit for GT? Fit what …

Bummer

March 22nd, 2011
9:27 am

Has the Vols president thought about reviewing A.D. Mike Hamilton’s job performance over the last 4 yrs.? Hamilton’s performance as the A.D. has been poor, just look at the adversity the football team has faced with coaches, and now along with mens basketball. Hamilton holds much of the responsibility for The Big Orange conflicts.

collegeballfan

March 22nd, 2011
9:30 am

Kids need to learn to NEVER sign to play for a coach. Coaches leave.

Sign with the school. The schools never leave, they are always there.

coachx

March 22nd, 2011
9:43 am

UGA just signed their 4th recruit for 2011. I hope they have room for this kid. Dawgs have signed Djurisic 6′8”, Dixon 6′9”, Flores 7′, and Caldwell-Pope the 6′6” 5 SG who shoots like Ray Allen. I hope they have room for 1 more. 5 signings in 1 class is alot considering the NCAA only allows 13 men’s basketball scholarships.

They currently have 13 players including the 2 seniors will soon graduate (Barned & Price). Then there is the possibility of Thompkins and/or Leslie going pro. That would cut the total roster down to 9.

I am not sure how many current players they have who are currently under scholarship vs. how many are walk-ons. It seems several walk-ons fill out the bench. Point is the NCAA only allows 13 basketball scholarships. It would be nice to know how many they have used up with the 4 new scholarship commitments.

Maybe the professional journalist will shead some light for us.

Just a question

March 22nd, 2011
9:46 am

@Collegeballfan that works if the AD or professors were doing the recruiting, but they are not its the coach so the kids go with a comfort level that staff not the school.

coachx

March 22nd, 2011
9:53 am

Fox might be regretting giving away that scholarship to Nick Nolte. Sure it was nice gesture but the kid was going to be on the team any way.

The only other walk-on I’m aware of is Matt Bucklin.

coachx

March 22nd, 2011
9:55 am

Who are the the guys on football scolarships planning on playing basketball at UGA too.

I know Ray Rome is considering it. He is 6′6” 250 lb bruiser but there is another kid too.

Brian F.

March 22nd, 2011
9:56 am

I have been saying for the last month that UGA’s guard play really hurt us this year. We need to find a way to get this guy.

coachx

March 22nd, 2011
9:57 am

Edit….not Nick Nolte…….Connor Nolte was the kid who got the scholarship his junior year as a walk-on.

It would be nice of Connor’s dad told Fox he would pay his senior year tuition if allowed for a 5 star or 4 star PG to be signed.

GA HOOPS COACH

March 22nd, 2011
10:09 am

PEOPLE ANY BS YOU ALL READ YOU BELIEVE…KEVIN WARE IS NOT ALL THAT… HE IS NOT A PG HE IS A SG THAT CAN’T HANDLE THE BALL WELL. HE PLAYS OUT OF CONTROL…. DON’T HAVE THE GRADES TO GET IN ANY D1 SCHOOL OR SAT SCORES…HE’LL END UP IN JUCO…

cheesehead

March 22nd, 2011
10:12 am

Didn’t Fox give that to Connor to get Evan Nolte to come to UGA?

Anybody know if Henry Brooks is also reconsidering the offer that UT gave him? I think it was Henry

GA HOOPS COACH

March 22nd, 2011
10:17 am

AND UGA FANS GERALD ROBINSON WILL RUN CIRCLES AROUND KEVIN WARE.HE’S 2 TIME BETTER THAN K.WARE

Just a question

March 22nd, 2011
10:18 am

@ GA HOOPS COACH you are an IDIOT for bashing kids because you’re a life failure. SMH

GTFAN4Ever

March 22nd, 2011
10:18 am

@Hewitt Fan or should I say Paul Hewitt? Looks, like Paul is posting AGAIN! Look, I use to be a Hewitt fan but clearly he did not coach up to the standards that Tech set! Time and time again he had solid recruiting classes and what did he do with them? Don’t tell me about how he made it to the NC game in 2004 or how he made it to two ACC Tournament Championship games… because did we win either of those? NO! He was out coached and to proud to admit it! He is better off at a mid-major level school…

Dawgs97

March 22nd, 2011
11:01 am

Let’s be real, Tech fans. You’re not a factor here because you don’t have a coach in place. The advantage Georgia has is quite simple…a stable, highly respected young coach in Mark Fox. Ware is clearly looking for stability after what’s happened in Knoxville and I’ll be shocked if Fox can’t close the deal here and get him to Athens.

And doesn’t matter to me if we’re 2nd choice and getting him by default. Seems like a good kid, solid head on his shoulders, and can’t fault him for being fully committed for a long time to Tennessee, but with the guy he committed to leaving, then he should have every right to be able to choose a new spot again.

Again, seems like a good kid and a talent and hope to see him in Red & Black next year.

burrr

March 22nd, 2011
11:22 am

No way Tenn releases him and allows him to sign 2 a SEC school and play immediately, and he is def not a kid that will choose to sit out just because he like UGA. Secondly UGA wasnt in his final pick of schools and i dont see that changing.

GT having a bright future? you dont even have a coach yet, Tech is a desireable job but dont know which coach would go there with the team they have now. Even though royal says he wants to wait to see who the new coach is i doubt he will stay with tech.

Ware will probably go to Kansas or Lousiville,

burrr

March 22nd, 2011
11:24 am

UGA will have another scholarship because thompkins will definitely leave.

David

March 22nd, 2011
11:39 am

First of all Ware is a SG NOT a PG. Second of all it came down to Tenn and GaTech..GTown was 3rd choice. Royal will stay at Tech…dude wants to stay in state and chose GT because of the school not Hewitt. Doubt Ware will be able to go to an SEC just like Thornton last year who wanted to go to GT. GT will have a coach next week at the latest and Ware can’t talk to any schools right now because has hasn’t been released.

BIG DAWG

March 22nd, 2011
12:03 pm

I think we should all leave the signing and coaching to Coach Fox! He seems to be doing pretty well at it.

I would love to see Dustin Ware shoot the ball more. His hesitancy is baffling. Gerald Robinson could be better if he works on his “control game”. He can be careless, but under control could be a pure shooter and a greater asset.

It would be nice to have Tompkins and Leslie come back. Rome and Marshall want to play BB.

If Kevin Ware does indeed have academic shortfalls, his choices will be limited. UT should consider looking for an AD, because Hamilton has a problem with his hiring skills. It has put the school in a perilous position. I would think that whoever mentioned Pearl as a possibility for GT, is one misguided individual for even thinking it. Pearl is not Tech quality, and that’s from a Dawg fan!

sideways

March 22nd, 2011
12:03 pm

Don’t think Ware would be much of a fit in Mooney’s offense. Hewitt would have loved him though. UGA, you can have him!

Coach Who Knows

March 22nd, 2011
12:03 pm

Ware isnt a SG or PG!!!!!! He is a very atlethic kid playing basketball. He is a kid that has a decent handle, can get to the rim with his athleticism, and can finish in transition with the best of them, however is defense is suspect considering how great of an athlete he is, his shooting is a work in progress and he demonstrates poor leadership and sportmanship often!!!!! GT isnt the place for you, neither is GA!!!! Go somewhere where you can develope your skills on and off the court, as well in the classroom!!!!!!

b

March 22nd, 2011
1:13 pm

David, Thornton did not want to go to tech.
He wanted Ga. and he signed with them, not the lame duck, hewitt.

Marcus

March 22nd, 2011
1:29 pm

When you sign a NLI, its with a school not a coach. Not real sure if there is enough hardship there for him to get his request granted, unless the school comes under serious NCAA penalties. Even then, the NCAA may only give respite to the rising SRs at Tennessee to transfer out, not necessarily granting incoming recruits a NLI waiver.