Long Beach State has reached the championship game of the Big West tournament for the past two seasons. They lost both times and fell short of the NCAA tournament. Still, Casper Ware isn't looking back.
"I can't cry about it or be sad about it," said Ware, who will get one final shot at reaching the NCAA tournament as a senior. "I just have to use it as motivation.
"It's a whole new season. Our goal is to get to that final game and win it."
So the reigning Big West player of the year set out this summer and showed off his game after a season in which he averaged 17.2 points. That has resulted in another MVP award at the Drew League, where he consistently put up 30-point games.
Summer league basketball is just that, as coach Dan Monson cautioned. It's also a good sign that Ware has done it alongside some top NBA players and gotten their attention, according to Gazette Newspapers.
He dropped 43 points on a team that featured NBA ballers DeMar DeRozan, Ron Artest and Steve Blake. He scored 33 points while playing on a team with LeBron James, impressing James so much that the NBA MVP asked Ware to teach at his camp the next weekend. He played against or alongside Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, Austin Daye, and more, consistently flummoxing top-tier talents and drawing praise from Twitter feeds to asphalt arguments.
Two weeks ago, the respect he's garnered took an interesting form, when he brought DeRozan, the Thunder's James Harden, and 2010 number one draft pick John Wall into the Pyramid to play hoop during an Open Gym session. Ware said it was good for him and his teammates to get a look at how the best in the world play, and didn't mind hearing that video of All-Stars in the Pyramid may one day help the school's recruiting cause.
That's certainly some pretty good company, and if it gives Ware confidence going into the season, it's great for a Long Beach State team looking to get over the hump.