Wichita State Shockers

How Trey Wade, an undersized juco transfer, has become the Shockers’ ‘savior’

It wasn’t a coincidence that Trey Wade became the first Shocker in two decades to register a double-double in his Wichita State debut.

After registering double-doubles in WSU’s closed scrimmage and exhibition victories, Wade added a third straight on Tuesday with a game-high 19 points and 11 rebounds in WSU’s 68-54 victory over Nebraska Omaha at Koch Arena.

“Trey Wade has been a savior for us in his three outings,” Shockers coach Gregg Marshall said.

Marshall has stressed to his inexperienced team that the route to more victories isn’t by making more spectacular plays, it’s by making fewer mistakes. No player better personifies what Marshall is looking for than Wade, the 6-foot-6, 219-pound junior-college transfer WSU assistant coach Lou Gudino helped snag to replace Markis McDuffie at power forward.

In short, Wade’s game does not have a shortcoming. On Tuesday, he not only finished with a double-double but also added two assists, a block and a steal. Wade also made three three-pointers and needed just one dribble from outside the three-point arc to drive, use his length and finish at the rim for a three-point play.

On a team with so much youth (and injuries), Wade’s consistency in all aspects is appreciated by Marshall.

“He can move his feet. He can get down in a stance. He’s long. He’s been coached before,” Marshall said, rattling off the things he likes about his new starting power forward. “Trey can do just about anything on a basketball court. He’s a good basketball player. He brings very few limitations. There’s nothing where you go, ‘Man, you really can’t do that at all.’ He can pass it. He can put it on the floor. He can defend in the post. He can defend on the perimeter. He’s a good athlete. I’m really glad we got him.”

But where Wade truly stands out is his pursuit of rebounds, which Marshall compared to former “junk-yard dog” Rashard Kelly.

Like Kelly, Wade is what Marshall refers to as a “ball-getter.” He’s relentless in his pursuit, which is what made Kelly one of the most effective rebounders of the Marshall era. Wade is undersized at 6-6, but carries the same mindset as Kelly that he can chase down any ball.

“I want you to go after that ball like it’s a million dollars,” Marshall said he tells his players.

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Wichita State forward Trey Wade (5) drives for the basket during the second half Tuesday night against Omaha in the Shockers season opener. (November 5, 2019) Bo Rader

Consider Wade a millionaire.

The impact of a ball-getter was seen in the first half Tuesday when Wade engineered an 8-0 run nearly by himself. In a 70-second window, Wade scored on an offensive rebound and put-back, grabbed a defensive rebound, snatched another offensive rebound and kicked out for a made three-pointer, then capped off the run with a three-pointer of his own.

“He just has a knack for the ball,” teammate Grant Sherfield said. “He does it every day in practice, so we’re not surprised when he goes out there and does it on the court in games. That’s just what Trey Wade does.”

Sometimes Wade’s sheer effort can lead to rebounds he has no business getting. Like on Tuesday when he heavily contested a fadeaway jumper in the paint, then somehow recovered quick enough to leap again to secure the defensive rebound. Or when later in the same game an Omaha player had inside position on him for a rebound, but Wade simply jumped higher and snatched the rebound.

Those exact kind of rebounds are the ones Marshall was yearning for last week following WSU’s exhibition game.

“College basketball is a physical game,” Marshall said then. “You get a rebound, more than likely going to have some body contact. It’s not like the other team is going to let you secure the rebound. You have to ferociously grab it and squeeze and put your indentation of your hands into the basketball. Otherwise, there’s a chance that it will be knocked out.”

But in order to leave hand imprints on the ball, the player has to be able to chase it. Kelly was elite at grabbing offensive rebounds in part because he crashed the glass on every single shot attempt. It became simple math: the more times Kelly went, the more offensive rebounds Kelly secured.

Wade’s mind clearly follows the same logic. He is already showing the same knack as Kelly for constantly moving in pursuit of rebounds. Wade grabbed four offensive rebounds on Tuesday with two coming when he was above the free-throw line when the shot went up.

“He just has a motor and it really never stops,” teammate Dexter Dennis said. “In practice he literally does the same thing. If the ball is in his area, I always think he’s going to get it. That’s just a T-Wade rebound, that’s what I call it.”

Dennis, who scored 17 points and finished one rebound shy of a double-double himself, joked that Wade’s quest for every rebound cost him a double-double.

“But we need that,” Dennis said, laughing. “The more ball-getters we have like him, the more successful we’ll be.”

Wade is successful because of his effort and athleticism, but also because he’s technically sound. He’s cognizant of never being caught out of position for a rebound in case a shot is launched from the perimeter. In fact, there were several times on Tuesday when Wade correctly anticipated a shot before the shooter even released it.

Wade doesn’t have the luxury of being taller than most players going for the rebound, so this one-second head start that Wade buys allows himself to gain the proper inside positioning he needs to grab so many of those rebounds.

That’s why it’s not a stretch to say Wade, who Marshall has said is still just scratching the surface of his potential, is already WSU’s most fundamentally sound rebounder.

“Trey Wade has been coached before, so he’s not going to hear anything that I have to say that he hasn’t already heard,” Marshall said. “He’s prepared for combat and prepared to go out there and get his hands dirty and do what he needs to do to get his team a win.”

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