You’ve heard more about Jesse Wade than most recruits for quite some time, specifically, because Wade is a Mormon and got his mission out of the way before joining Gonzaga.
You read that right. The Zags were able to pluck a good basketball player out of Utah, who is Mormon, right from under the noses of BYU and the University of Utah. Since that coup happened, the legend of Wade has been consistently building, and it reached its peak in mid July with this tweet:
Another Kevin Pangos? That is some incredibly lofty praise coming from the ESPN expert. The praise matches the billing, at least on the physical stature level. Wade stands at 6’1, and like Pangos, isn’t the biggest guard on the planet. Rather, he has made his game by playing it smartly, and using what he has to make an impact.
Says his high school coach Jay Welk: “He has great lateral quickness, he handles the ball exceptionally well, he plays low to the ground, yet he can get separation on his shot from a defender that not all players can do.”
Wade scored 26.8 points per game his senior year, hitting 45 percent of his three point shots. He was a prolific scorer, but he will also need to find that consistent shooting stroke again. Wade told Jim Meehan with the Spokesman Review that the shot started out rusty, but the biggest hill is the conditioning.
Luckily for Wade, he will have time on his side to get his body into shape for the rigors of the upcoming year. Josh Perkins should take a lion’s share of the minutes at the point guard position, leaving Wade and fellow incoming freshman Joel Ayayi to pick up the rest. Between the latter two players, Ayayi has the higher ceiling, but Wade has more polish on his game.
Depending on how he plays, and if the shot is there, Few will have a hard time keeping him out of the lineup -- and perhaps Wade will see close to 20 minutes per game, primarly as a backup to Perkins and then some spot time at the two spot. But with Zach Norvell, Silas Melson and Corey Kispert all also laying a claim to some shooting guard minutes, it seems more fair for Wade to probably see 15 minutes or so per game next season.
He will have to be battle ready, of course. Perkins is the primary ball handler, but is also prone to lapses where his leash might get yanked during a game. Wade needs to be ready to step in, because after that, it is the raw power of Ayayi, then, no one else.