UTC Mocs get Will Wade to spread 'Havoc'

UTC Mocs get Will Wade to spread 'Havoc'

May 14th, 2013 by David Uchiyama in Sports - College

Will Wade

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

ABOUT WILL WADE

Hometown: Nashville

Date of birth: Nov. 26, 1983

Degree: Clemson, secondary education 2005

Career:

• 2001-05: Clemson student manager

• 2005-06: Clemson graduate assistant

• 2006-07: Clemson director of basketball operations

• 2007-09: Harvard assistant coach

• 2009-13: Virginia Commonwealth assistant coach

Will Wade already is recruiting for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball program.

He's not recruiting high school players to become Mocs in the future. Wade first is recruiting those who wore blue and gold last season and players who signed up to wear it this season, and he'll be recruiting others today when he's introduced as the 18th head coach in UTC history at a public reception today at noon in the University Center.

"The first thing is to get to know the players that are here and develop those relationships, and spend as much time around them as possible getting to know them and them getting to know me," Wade said from the Atlanta airport after calling senior Zaccheus Mason.

"Secondly, I have to hire a staff," Wade said, adding that interim coach Casey Long is in the mix for a position. "The third thing I have to do is recruiting. We have to fill out the roster.

"We also need to recruit fans, boosters and people on campus."

Wade is not familiar with the layout of the UTC campus, McKenzie Arena and the Chattem Practice Facility. But he's familiar with the airport, having recruited a former Tyner player, and he supported friends at Spring Fling when he attended Franklin Road Academy outside of Nashville.

So he knows the city, having grown up a few hours away and having a cousin, Geep Wade, who played football for UTC and later coached two seasons for Russ Huesman.

"I can tell the administration is committed to winning and the town would go bonkers for a winner," Wade said. "There's a lot of people who care deeply about Chattanooga basketball.

"My job is to invigorate and get the fan base fired up again and get them back out to the arena and recruit good kids that the fan base can be proud of."

Wade spent the past four seasons as an assistant to Shaka Smart at Virginia Commonwealth. He graduated in 2005 from Clemson, where he was a student manager for four years, then a graduate assistant and then director of basketball operations for Oliver Purnell. He then coached two years at Harvard under Tommy Amaker before taking a job with Smart and helping the Rams reach the 2011 Final Four.

Wade is known as the architect of VCU's "Havoc" defense, which extends all 94 feet of the floor and could be rebranded as "Chaos" with the Power-C for marketing purposes.

The Rams had 422 steals last year, which is a school and Atlantic 10 Conference record, and the 18th most for a team during one season in NCAA history.

Details of his contract with UTC still need to be ironed out, he said.

"We're going to play energetic and very similar to what we do at VCU," Wade said. "We're going to have fun and work hard."

Mason, who led UTC with 14.9 points per game last year, moved back into an on-campus apartment for a summer session Monday, and teammate Ronrico White will be joining him today. They both spoke with Wade on Monday afternoon and came away impressed with the 30-year-old coach.

"He wanted to touch base and build a relationship on the court and off the court as well, and he said he's going to have trust in me," said White, who averaged 10.2 points per game last season. "It was a good conversation. He said he wanted to implement an up-tempo pace, and I was all for it.

"I told him that I will be working hard. He wanted to speak about things off the court like making sure I'm on track to graduate. He was building a relationship."

He was recruiting.

"I'm glad all that stuff is over with and we have a new coach," Mason said. "You can't tell too much from a short conversation, but he's really excited and sounds really energetic. I'm looking forward to working with him and getting to know him better, and getting things in motion."

Wade made an impression on people at VCU, which is located in Richmond, Va.

In UTC's official release, "UTC is hiring and absolute star," Smart said. "Will is extremely bright, hard-working and diligent. No one will spend more time building relationships with student-athletes than Will. There is no question in my mind he will be a tremendous success."

Michael Litos, the color analyst for the VCU Rams Radio Network, has been around the program since 1996 in various capacities and for the last six years with official VCU duties. He said Wade, who graduated from high school in 2001, is a wise young man with a bright future and never stops working.

"He's quick-smart, too, and with his concepts made suggestions to Shaka all the time during games about how to adjust the defense," Litos said. "Off the court he's a nice unassuming person and he's patient with stupidity.

"I think he slept, once, for two hours in May 2012. He's energetic and he gets after it."

Geep Wade recalled a family vacation a few years ago in Destin, Fla., when Will's father turned 60.

"The rules are different for football and basketball, but Will was on the phone nonstop -- he had no vacation," Geep Wade said. "He was on the phone the entire time and recruiting while on vacation. I don't know what he was thinking.

"He lives and breathes basketball."