Oregon center Kel'el Ware reportedly makes decision on his future with the Ducks
Oregon center Kel’el Ware is leaving the program after one season.
According to multiple reports on Monday — first by 247Sports’ Travis Branham — Ware is entering his name into the transfer portal with no intention of declaring for the NBA Draft at this time. Ware will return for his second year of college ball, but it won’t be in Eugene.
The news likely comes as less of a shock to Duck fans than one would expect given Ware’s lofty stature as a 5-star prospect out of high school. It simply didn’t work in his lone season with Oregon.
Ware started four games early in the season — during which he averaged 31 minutes a game — but saw his role drastically reduced as things went on. In 14 appearances between January and February, Ware played just 9.6 minutes a night while averaging 3.9 points and 2.5 rebounds.
With N’Faly Dante and Nate Bittle taking major steps toward bigger roles, Ware was squeezed out both by circumstance and, seemingly, effort.
For a Jan. 29 game against Utah, Ware received a DNP-CD from coach Dana Altman. Instead of the 7-foot-1 freshman with NBA buzz, Altman opted to insert junior forward Lok Wur into the rotation. That decision came on the heels of publicly issuing a challenge to Ware regarding his activity levels on the floor.
“We’ve had a lot of conversations,” Altman said at the time. “They haven’t gone as well and haven’t been as constructive as we want them to be. I was disappointed in his effort. I let him know that. He’s gonna have to make some adjustments or I’ve got to make some decisions. His time has been reduced. That doesn’t help us, because he is talented.”
That was after a season-low six minutes of playing time in the Ducks’ loss to Stanford on Jan. 21. Altman made several other comments throughout the season of the same ilk.
Ware, in his departure, had only good things to say about Oregon and Altman.
“I am incredibly thankful for my freshman season at Oregon,” Ware told Branham. “Sincere thanks to Coach (Dana) Altman and the entire coaching staff for believing in me and helping me grow, both as a player and person. I will take the lessons that I have learned on and off the court this season into this next chapter. And to Ducks Nation and most importantly, my teammates: thank you for embracing me into the Oregon family.”
Ware leaves after averaging 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 15.8 minutes a game as a freshman. He was the No. 7 overall recruit in the 2022 class and should have no shortage of suitors as he looks to prove worthy of a first-round draft selection in an upcoming NBA Draft.
Bittle will be back next year for the Ducks. Dante has one year of eligibility remaining and has yet to publicly announce his decision. He had a breakout season this past year, averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards a game. The Ducks will also add 5-star forward KJ Evans from the 2023 signing class.