Dean Wade has likely played his final game in a Kansas State basketball uniform.
Shortly after arriving at the Manhattan airport walking with the help of crutches and a medical boot on his right foot Tuesday, K-State coach Bruce Weber said the Wildcats are unlikely to have their star senior forward when they take the floor in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against UC Irvine at 1 p.m. Friday.
“I would say he is doubtful,” Weber said. “We can’t put him in jeopardy. He would love to play. It’s not him at all. It’s just the injury was more severe than we ever anticipated and it is going to take a little time.”
When asked to describe the details of Wade’s injury before boarding a flight to San Jose, Calif., Weber simply said “he hurt his foot.”
“He has had a lot of issues and it happened in the Oklahoma game in the first half,” Weber said. “He played through it in the second half with so much adrenaline to win the Big 12 championship. I was with him after at the press conference and it was hurting. I didn’t think it was anything (severe), but he had so many issues that next morning and he was not doing well.
“It’s just sad. It’s sad for him. My heart goes out to him.”
Wade is averaging 12.9 points and 6.2 rebounds this season.
Earlier this month, he became the first K-State basketball player since Jacob Pullen to earn All-Big 12 first team honors in back-to-back seasons. His absence this week will put a damper on what has been a terrific season for both Wade and K-State.
This is the second straight year Wade will likely miss the bulk of the NCAA Tournament. He only played against Kentucky in the Sweet 16 last season, scoring four points in eight minutes. He watched from the bench as K-State won its first two games against Creighton and Maryland-Baltimore County. He was once again a spectator during an Elite Eight loss to Loyola-Chicago.
K-State has been here, and won, before. Still, Weber was hoping things would be different this time around.
“Obviously, it affects our team,” Weber said. “But for him two years in a row to not be able to play in the NCAA Tournament (is sad). I have told so many people that he never got to show people what he could do his whole senior year, because it has been so hodgepodge with the injuries and not practicing and that. I just hope in the long haul that he can get healthy and give it a shot at a professional career down the road.”
Wade has battled lingering foot issues for the past year. Wade missed six games with a torn ligament in his foot earlier this season before returning to the lineup and helping the Wildcats share a Big 12 championship with Texas Tech.
The Wildcats started Big 12 play 0-2 without him on the floor and finished 14-2 with Wade starting.
Wade skipped the Big 12 Tournament last week after injuring his right foot in the regular-season finale against Oklahoma. K-State listed Wade as questionable for the event at the beginning of the week and Weber downgraded to Wade doubtful when the team arrived in Kansas City.
He was in attendance for both of K-State’s games at Sprint Center, but Wade was nothing more than a spectator while wearing a walking boot on the bench.
Wade didn’t practice at all last week and spent the majority of his time with trainers receiving treatment on his injured right foot. The Wildcats hoped he could recover in time to play in the NCAA Tournament, but that now appears unlikely.