What they’re saying: A look at the current NBA draft stock of Kel’el Ware

  • 01/25/2024 8:25 am in

With the conclusion of the 2023-24 college basketball season just over two months away, several mock drafts and big boards have recently been updated for June’s NBA draft.

Indiana sophomore Kel’el Ware is the only current Hoosier consistently mentioned in these projections. Ware is averaging 14.2 points and 9.4 rebounds in 30.9 minutes per game after transferring from Oregon.

Here’s a look at where Ware stands in the latest projections:

ESPN.com, Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo: No. 24

To Ware’s credit, he’s been productive this season while playing under a microscope at Indiana, handling significant minutes and showcasing the length and mobility that have always made him interesting. However, he hasn’t fared well in his most difficult matchups against some of college basketball’s better bigs, including Clingan and Kansas’ Hunter Dickinson. The biggest on-court question for Ware will be proving he can handle that level of physicality, a challenge he’ll continue to face nightly in the Big Ten. Ware’s languid motor has been somewhat improved, but finding ways to help drive winning and embracing more of the dirty work would help solidify him as a first-round worthy developmental pick. — Woo

The Athletic, Sam Vecenie: No. 36

Bleacher Report, Jonathan Wasserman: No. 24

Kel’el Ware’s size, finishing and shot-blocking tools and shot-making skill level have screamed lottery talent for years. Questions about his consistency and toughness continue to linger, though.

While some teams may not have confidence in his fluctuating presence for a second-year player, others may see too much talent to pass on outside the lottery.Ware figures to win some teams back during workouts, where he’s bound to impress with how easily he gets above the rim and releases threes.

The Ringer, Kevin O’Connor: No. 26

A dunk contest–worthy athlete with phenomenal size and length. He’s an eager shot blocker with excellent timing, and he has good mobility and makes quick second leaps.

Good hands catching tough passes around the rim with the coordination to pivot toward the basket and finish from difficult angles.

Shoots an easy ball from 3. He hops into his shot and cleanly transitions into his high, unblockable release. His percentages need to catch up, but his touch is a positive indicator. He shoots a high percentage on hook shots, floaters, and layups.

His combination of skills gives him great pick-and-roll potential. His high school team ran plays off the opening tip in which a player would screen for him as he’d sprint toward the basket to catch a lob.

NBADraft.net: No. 26

Yahoo Sports, Krysten Peek: No. 22

Ware has been significantly more assertive this year on the block and has been a player Indiana targets a lot in high-low situations and in the pick-and-pop. Ware is averaging 14.2 points and 9.4 rebounds for the Hoosiers, and scouts are taking note of his bounce back after a disappointing freshman season at Oregon.

Ricky O’Donnell, SBNation: No. 19

Ware was an elite recruit who got lost within a deep Oregon front court as a freshman. His transfer to Indiana has given him the opportunity and mentorship he’s needed to become one of the top centers in college basketball. Ware is a long and mobile 7-footer who can finish plays above the rim and has solid touch on his jumper. The biggest question mark has always been his motor, but he’s been playing harder under head coach Mike Woodson in Bloomington. Indiana’s total lack of shooting and spacing around Ware makes you wonder how effective he’d be in a better situation. If Ware can show teams he’s capable of being a stretch five — he’s 10-for-24 (41.7 percent) from three this year — he should push toward the lottery. His talent is evident, but he’ll have to overcome his reputation for occasional loafing.

Jeff Zillgitt, USA Today: No. 24

HoopsHype, Aggregate Mock Draft: No. 23

After transferring from Oregon, Kel’el Ware has seen double the playing time and has shown statistical improvement across the board at Indiana under former NBA coach Mike Woodson.

“Ware reminds me of Christian Wood,” an NBA executive told HoopsHype. “He’s long and can shoot.”

Ware’s athleticism, shot blocking, and floor spacing intrigue NBA teams for his size, while his inconsistent motor and toughness have been questioned the most.

CBSSports.com: No. 24

Yardbarker, Pat Heery: No. 17

Originally expected to be a one-and-done at Oregon, Kel’el Ware fell out of favor with the Ducks and was maddeningly inconsistent. Instead of declaring for the draft, falling to the second round and spending this season in the G-League, he smartly transferred to Indiana where his minutes and production have more than doubled. Ware has some of the most impressive blocked shots you will ever see, plus the ability to be a rim-runner and occasional threat from the three-point line.

Filed to: