Thanksgiving Hoopfest: Oregon bound Ware shines brightest on a floor loaded with stars

Hoopfest News

DUNCANVILLE, Texas – Now in year 13, the Thanksgiving Hoopfest is one of the nation’s premier high school basketball showcases and a must stop to evaluate and gather news from top talent. Each year the event features the top talent in Texas, bordering state and beyond. It is the perfect place for players to cement their reputations or see their national stock begin to take off.

Version 13.0 at Duncanville High just outside of Dallas is no different and things got off to a tremendous start on Friday. On a day when seven five-star prospects from the classes of 2022 and 2023 took the floor and several others who will be ranked in 2024 were having big outings, nobody did more damage than Oregon bound five-star big man Kel’el Ware.


An early evening game between North Little Rock (Ark.) High and Dallas (Texas) Kimball figured to deliver fireworks and it did, just not quite in the way that many might have expected.

On the NLR side you had Arkansas bound five-star combo guard Nick Smith Jr. and on the Kimball side you had five-star Texas bound point guard Arterio Morris. While Smith came out flat and struggling from the field, Morris hit a few threes and started the game personally outscoring NLR 8-2 in the first few minutes. Morris was excellent throughout, but the real story of the game was the play of another five-star in Oregon bound big man Kel’el Ware.

It took the near seven-footer for North Little Rock who is currently ranked No. 14 nationally by 247Sports a little while to make his presence felt, but once he got going, he was problematic on both ends. He dominated on the glass, scored at will above the rim and altered or blocked one shot after another. His play in the paint helped his team erase a double-digit deficit and finally earn a win when his teammate Smith hit a pull-up in the lane with 1.7 seconds left to secure a 72-70 win.

For the night, Ware had 23 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks while converting on 10-15 field goals and had Oregon assistant Chris Crutchfield was smiling ear to ear because he’ll get to coach him next winter. Despite a poor night shooting (3-14 FG0 Smith finished with 15 points, five assists and the game winner. In a losing effort, Morris was tremendous netting 23 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out six assists.