Will Wade played just one sport in high school and it wasn’t basketball.
Yet, his ascension to college basketball coach doesn’t surprise anyone who knew Wade while he was at Franklin Road Academy.
“He had a coach’s mentality even as a child,” FRA Director of Communication Carleen Matthews said. “You always knew he was a young man who was going to go far.”
Already in his young career, Wade has reached the pinnacle of college basketball — the Final Four, which begins Saturday in Houston. He is an assistant coach at Virginia Commonwealth University, which, of course, it is better known as VCU.
The No. 11 seed Rams have surprised and stunned college powerhouses and basketball fans alike as they have made their unlikely trip to the NCAA Tournament semifinals.
Wade, a 2001 graduate of FRA, is the youngest assistant on 33-year-old VCU head coach Shaka Smart’s staff. Wade, 28, is at his third different school since he graduated from Clemson in 2005 with a degree in secondary education. He was a student manager for four years there and then stayed there for two more seasons after he graduated, the first as a graduate assistant and second as director of operations for Tigers coach Oliver Purnell.
Wade then became Tommy Amaker’s first hire when he took over as head coach at Harvard prior to the 2007-08 season. He spent two years as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator there before Smart lured him to VCU.
Smart was an assistant for one year at Clemson and developed a relationship with Wade there. After Smart got offered the job at VCU, he called Wade the same day and made him his first hire.
“No one in the country will outwork Will,” Smart said two years ago when announcing the hiring of Wade. “He will do whatever it takes to get the job done and help continue the great tradition that is VCU basketball.”
Wade never played basketball in high school. He was a golfer at FRA. He did, however, play a part in the basketball program as he spent four years as a student manager. He served in the same role for the football and girls softball teams.
“He was passionate about athletics,” Matthews said. “He was one of those dependable young people.”
Wade’s parents and younger brother, Jay, are expected to all be in Houston this weekend. Wade’s mother, Sissy, is the Head of School at FRA. His father, Frank, works with Wade & Egbert Insurance Agency and Jay, a 2005 grad of FRA, works at Loyola University of Chicago.
This could be a huge weekend for Will Wade.
Even if VCU exits early from the Final Four, he could again be on the move. Smart has become a hot commodity and could receive head coaching offers from larger universities. If Smart does get a new job, Wade could go with him or stay at VCU and work his way up the ladder.
“I’m proud of him,” Sissy Wade said. “Despite all the success, he’s still the Will I have always known.”