Dean Wade is ready to get back out there.
The Kansas State star told reporters he was “98 percent sure” he would play in the Wildcats’ Sweet 16 matchup against Kentucky, adding, “I don’t know if they can keep me out of this one.” The 6-foot-10, all-Big 12 selection missed K-State’s last three games, including the squad’s first two in the NCAA Tournament, with a lingering injury, but as the Wildcats look to keep their season alive, Wade has his sights on returning to the hardwood.
After all, there are plenty of people waiting for Wade to play. The Kansas native has his own fan club in his hometown and his family, chock-full of athletic talent, is, perhaps, his most vocal support. Here’s everything you need to know about the Wades:
1. His Father, Jay, Played One Year on the K-State Football Team
Wade wasn’t the first Wildcat in the family. His father, Jay, played one season as a flanker on the Kansas State football team in 1985. He saw action in two games, notching one catch for five yards before finishing his career at Wester Illinois.
Jay lettered as a defensive back in 1987 and 1988 at Western Illinois, leading the Leathernecks to a 10-2 record, Gateway Conference title and a berth in the Division I-AA playoffs as a senior. He was also named an AP honorable mention All-American and First Team All-Gateway Conference in 1988, while was second team all-conference in 1987.
2. Wade’s Mother, Trish, Played Volleyball & Basketball in College
Wade’s mother also brought her own athleticism to the family.
Trish was a standout volleyball and basketball player during her high school and college days and, in 2011, was inducted into the Barton County Community College Sports Hall of Fame for both sports.
Of course, the accolade was well deserved after Trish led the Cougar volleyball team to a whopping 111 victories during her career, including a pair of top-four finishes at the the NJCAA National Tournament. She was also named an All-American in the 1985-86 season before transferring to Florida Southern 1987.
While at Florida Southern, Trish was an AVCA Second Team All-American as a junior in 1987 and twice named a First Team All-Sunshine State Conference selection. She still holds the single-match (11), single-season (99) and career (182) records for blocks at Florida Southern and ranks in the top-10 in five career and nine single-season categories at the school.
Trish couldn’t stay away from the game, even after her own career was over. She took over as the St. John-Hudson girl’s volleyball coach after the Wade family moved to St. John, Kansas and, in 2008, led the squad to a first-place finish at 1A State.
3. His Sister Was a Star Volleyball Player in High School
As if having parents who were sports stars wasn’t enough, Wade’s older sister also excelled in athletics. Teresa Wade, much like her mother, was a standout volleyball player, competing for Trish at St. John High School. She also played basketball and ran track while she was in high school.
Teresa was named an All-State volleyball player twice and, in 2010, earned the 1A State Division Most Valuable Player honors. She went on to complete at Hutchinson Community College where she was a two-time Jayhawk Player of the Year and Jayhawk Freshman of the Year in 2012. Teresa recorded 482 kills, the third most in school history, in 2013 and finished her career as second all-time with 896 total kills.
After Hutchinson, Teresa played for Fort Hays State University, recording 199 digs and 123 kills as a junior in 2014.
4. Wade Thrives on the Support of His Hometown
St. John, Kansas is not a hotbed of basketball talent. It is a small, rural town with about 1,200 residents and no stop light.
“It’s rural America,” Jay Wade told Abilene-RC. “When we need something we don’t just hop in the car and go down to the Home Depot. We’re 25 miles away from the nearest Wal-Mart.”
St. John, Kansas may not be in the same world as anything remotely metropolitan, but it’s Wade’s hometown and, as far as he’s concerned, it’s the best place in the world. And he’s determined to shine a bit of a spotlight on it. He told Abilene-RC:
I am very proud that young players in this state look up to me and what I have accomplished, growing up in St. John and making it at Kansas State. There are little kids from little towns that probably don’t know they can do something like this. I am here to show them and prove to them that they can do it.
Of course, Wade’s fan club in St. John is well-earned. He played in 32 games this season, averaging a career-best 16.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Wade reached double figures in 20 straight games as well, shooting a blistering 59.2 percent from the floor and 42.7 percent from three-point range and, despite the lingering injury that kept him sidelined against Creighton, he hopes to do his hometown proud in the Sweet 16.
5. The Family Previously Lived in Wichita, Kansas
The Wade family has always called Kansas home, but prior to moving to St. John, they were just a bit more metropolitan. After Trish and Jay got married, the couple settled into their respective careers in Wichita – Jay working in sales with Foley Caterpillar and Trish as a fitness and health trainer.
Folely, eventually, transferred Jay to the western part of the state and the family put down roots in St. John. They never really saw a reason too leave again.
“We looked all over for a good community to live in,” Trish told the K-State website. “We loved the school. They had the nicest school secretary.”
And, of course, the Wade kids thrived in the school and the community. It only made sense that Wade would want to stay close to home when he considered his college-basketball future. The Gatorade Player of the Year and Mr. Kansas Basketball got his first major offer from Kansas State and never looked back and while other programs followed in the Wildcats’ footsteps, Wade knew there was something about that purple uniform that felt like home – again.