Kansas State’s multi-skilled center/forward/guard, Dean Wade, has been slowed by a foot injury. Again. Wildcat coach, Bruce Weber, announced this week that Wade might miss the Big 12 tournament, or be somewhat slowed. That Kansas State is not the same team without Wade is obvious, despite their run to the Elite Eight last year without him.
Wade was instrumental in dismantling Oklahoma last Saturday as the Wildcats clinched a share of the Big 12 Championship. Any effects of a sore foot were not shown that afternoon as Weber and Wildcat fans ogled, bellowed and showered praise on the three seniors, Barry Brown, Kamau Stokes and Wade. The small-town kid from St.John has achieved hero status in Manhattan.
When Wade hugged his coach and his teammates, when he slammed a reverse dunk and bellowed out a scream and when he climbed the ladder to get his piece of the nets off the rim, a foot injury was not obvious but a sore foot can creep up on you in a moments time.
Credit to Wade’s work ethic and the coaching of Bruce Weber and his entire staff for helping to develop Wade into an elite player. I also give a ton of credit to his high school coach, Clint Kinnamon. Kinnamon, boys basketball coach at St. John, recognized, early-on, the talent that Wade was and could be. Many high school coaches would have stuck a 6-9 player in the post and let him dominate to win games. Kinnamon allowed Wade to play everywhere, inside and outside and develop into an all-around player who could post-up, shoot the three ball and pass out assists.
Wade’s statistics are too voluminous to list here. Suffice it to say that he was just voted to the Big 12 basketball first-team for the second consecutive season. Wade worked hard and made himself into that player. A player who can, and will, play professional basketball. That’s where the “elephant” walks into the room.
One thing that scares professional scouts and ownership the most is foot problems with big men. One only has to think of KU’s Joel Embiid. Embiid was the third pick in the 2014, NBA draft but missed most of his first two seasons with foot and knee injuries. An All-Star now, but still hampered by those injuries.
The point is, yes Wade would be a valuable talent for most NBA teams. His ability to play anywhere, rebound, shoot the three and pass are highly marketable but every time one of these injuries pops up probably costs him money at the bargaining table, creates some doubt for the folks who hold the purse strings.
Here’s hoping Wade makes a quick recovery and plays in this Big 12 Tournament and helps the Wildcats make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. Area fans have been fortunate. We got to watch Scott City’s Ron Baker make it to the NBA and now we want to see the same for St.John’s Dean Wade. Not many rural America areas can count that blessing.
Let’s hope the blessing of no more foot injuries is in the cards for Dean Wade.
Buddy Tabler is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune and his views don’t necessarily reflect those of the paper. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.