Lance Ware began the summer as one of New Jersey’s top basketball prospects in the class of 2020.

The Camden High swingman will end the summer as one of the country’s most intriguing prospects.

“I feel like I have a lot more confidence because I had such a great summer,” Ware said Sunday night.

Evidence of Ware’s rise in national stature arrived late in July, when the 6-foot-9 left-hander received a scholarship offer from Kentucky.

Ware, who is set to begin his senior year at Camden in September, has 24 offers. He has narrowed his choices to a final five of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio State, Providence and Miami.

Lance Ware leaping into the air in celebration after Camden's victory over Pleasantville in a South Jersey Group 2 semifinal in March.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
Lance Ware leaping into the air in celebration after Camden's victory over Pleasantville in a South Jersey Group 2 semifinal in March.

Ware has scheduled visits with four of those schools, starting with Ohio State on Aug. 30. He plans to visit Michigan on Sept. 5, Providence on Sept. 12, and Miami on Sept. 28.

Ware said he intends to visit Kentucky but has not yet arranged a date.

“I’ve talked with a lot of people who have been through this process, and they tell me when I visit the right school and step on campus, I’ll know,” Ware said. “I’m keeping open [minded]. Every one of the five has things that I really like about them, whether it’s the relationships I’ve built with the coaches or the style of play.”

Ware said it was tough to winnow his choices to five. A four-star recruit by both rivals.com and 247sports.com, Ware also has offers from programs such as UConn, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Seton Hall, Wake Forest and Temple, the alma mater of both his previous coach at Camden, Vic Carstarphen, and his current coach, Rick Brunson.

“There were about 10 schools that I really liked,” Ware said. “But I knew I had to get it down. That was very hard to do.”

Ware averaged 11.6 points and 9.6 rebounds last season at Camden. He helped the Panthers to a 17-7 record and a berth in the South Jersey Group 2 title game, in which they lost an overtime thriller to eventual state champion Haddonfield.

Lance Ware rising for a dunk vs. Millville in December 2018.
Lance Ware rising for a dunk vs. Millville in December 2018.

Ware’s stock has skyrocketed thanks to his strong play through the spring and summer with the New York Renaissance 17U team in both the Nike EYBL circuit as well as the Peach Jam AAU tournament sessions.

“When you play against the best players in the country and you are able to be dominant at times, that means you can be dominant against anybody,” Ware said.

At the Peach Jam, Ware averaged 14.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks as his team reached the Elite Eight of the prestigious tournament.

About two weeks later, Ware received an offer from Kentucky.

“Everybody who gets a Kentucky offer is going to be thrilled,” Ware said. “It’s like a dream. That’s such a great program.

“It’s such a blessing. It’s fantastic.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari has a deep connection to Camden. He recruited former Camden stars Arthur Barclay, a long-time volunteer assistant coach for the Panthers, and Dajuan Wagner to play for him at Memphis in the early 2000s.

Calipari remains close with both men and visited a Camden workout before the 2018-19 season.

“When he was here when we had an open gym, we talked about that,” Ware said of Calipari’s connection to Camden.

Ware said he has embraced the recruiting process.

“It can be really stressful,” Ware said. “You just hear from coaches so much. The fun part is building relationships, getting to know people, learning different things about different teams and programs.

“To me, it’s just super exciting.”