Kansas State University

K-State star Dean Wade has new outlook on injury history as he chases NBA dream

Dean Wade explains how he injured his foot as a K-State senior

Dean Wade explains how he injured his foot as a K-State senior
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Dean Wade explains how he injured his foot as a K-State senior

Dean Wade was angry when Kansas State’s basketball season ended in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last month, using words like “horrible” and “not fair” to describe the helpless feeling of missing out on the postseason with an injury for the second straight year.

“It’s been definitely the toughest part of my life,” Wade said at the time.

Three weeks have passed since K-State lost to UC-Irvine in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and Wade has used that time to gain a new perspective on the way his college career ended.

He still wishes things could have been different, but he’s no longer mad about it.

“My whole view on this, it goes along with my faith, is I must have not learned the lesson the first time and God sent it again,” Wade said Thursday at K-State’s basketball banquet. “I am trying to take the message out of this one as a positive and take the lesson, whatever it is, and learn from it and become a better person from it.”

Some mystery has surrounded Wade since he last played in a K-State uniform. He finished off his college career with a strong game against Oklahoma and helped the Wildcats share a Big 12 championship with Texas Tech.

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He showed no signs of injury during the game and celebrated with his teammates afterward. But he woke up the next morning in throbbing pain and never played again.

K-State coach Bruce Weber was intentionally vague about the specifics of Wade’s injury, calling him questionable and then doubtful for postseason tournaments.

But Wade shared information on Thursday, saying he broke the second metatarsal in his right foot early on against Oklahoma and was ruled out for the season the following day, almost one year after he suffered a stress reaction in his left foot.

“(Team trainers) weren’t real sure what it was, because I was walking around fine and I didn’t hear a pop or anything like that,” Wade said. “I was like, it’s senior night and you’re not taking my out of this game. I told them that. So I went and played the rest of the game through it.”

He hoped it was a minor injury, but he wasn’t so lucky.

“I woke up the next morning and had X-rays and I wasn’t very positive about it,” Wade said. “I had a weird suspicion what it was, because it felt oddly similar to last year, just way worse. Waking up that morning and getting that news was devastating. I cried hard.”

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Again, that was then. This is now.

Even though his right foot is still in a walking boot, he is optimistic about his professional future. He is close to hiring an agent and hopes to be back at full speed by June.

His recovery time might not be fast enough for him to participate in the NBA combine next month, but he expects to get some workouts afterward.

“A lot of NBA guys came up to me (at the Final Four) and wanted to know his status,” Weber said. “I think he still has a chance to get drafted ... He will be able to do some workouts and hopefully do enough to impress some people and get himself to where he is in the mix.”

Wade is not currently projected as an NBA Draft pick, but several teams have him on their radar. He is the No. 81 draft prospect, according to ESPN.

His size (6-foot-10) and shooting ability (41.8 percent from three-point range last season) will give him a shot at the next level after twice earning first-team All-Big 12 honors with the Wildcats. He averaged 12.9 points and 6.2 rebounds.

“I have got to work on moving without the ball a little more and my ball-handling,” Wade said. “They think my shooting is good. I can get into easy shots. I just have to keep shooting everyday and working on ball-handling and stuff like that.”

The only thing holding Wade back right now is his foot. Even after he recovers, he admits teams may view him as an injury risk.

But he’s not worried about that at the moment. For now, he is remembering his time at K-State fondly and optimistic he will make it to the NBA.

“It’s all about how much I get in and work and how hard I want it,” Wade said. “And I want it bad. I am going to push myself every day until I make it. Maybe not next year. I have all the confidence in the world I will make it next year, but if I don’t have the right opportunities I am still going to be chasing it. I’m not too worried about it, because I know with hard work everything pays off. I have worked hard my whole career.”

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