MANHATTAN — This upcoming season’s iteration of the K-State basketball team is marked by a strong trio of juniors. Those juniors include guards Barry Brown and Kamau Stokes, as well as forward Dean Wade. While Brown and Stokes should command the majority of the backcourt leadership, the responsibilities of frontcourt leadership belong to Wade.
“I just take (a leadership role) one day at a time. I try to help the younger guys. I was in their position once. I know how it felt to have somebody help me, and it felt great. I’m trying to take them under my wing. I’m not the most vocal person ever, but I’m trying to lead by my actions. We also have (senior guard) Mason (Schoen). He’s been through the rings a few times. He’s always got our backs and he’s still helping me to this day. I’m learning a lot from him,” Wade said at Wednesday’s K-State media day at the Ice Family Basketball Center in Manhattan.
Wade, who stands among the tallest Wildcats at 6-foot-10, averaged 9.3 points per game, 4.5 rebounds per game, and 1.8 assists per game last season, and is also the returning leader in both blocks (23) and field goal percentage (49.6 percent). Despite this, Wade still believes he has areas where he can improve.
“(Looking at last year’s film), I see someone who wasn’t aggressive enough on defense and offense. Especially the rebounding part. I see someone who has a ton of room to grow. Hopefully over this offseason I’ve grown enough that I can expand my game a little more,” Wade said.
K-State head coach Bruce Weber talked about how Wade has grown up this offseason.
“I think (Wade)’s grown up. He had to speak in front of our athletics staff last week. He was funny, he said good things, and he showed that he’s grown up. He’s grown up on the basketball court, as well as strength-wise and conditioning. He’s way ahead of where he was (last season). I don’t want to put pressure on him, but he should be one of the better players in the (Big 12). I think he’s much more confident out here. He’s playing stronger. I know for a fact that he’s prepared himself for this season,” Weber said.
Stokes talked about some of the changes that he’s seen in Wade this offseason.
“(Wade) looks like a different animal right now. We need him to be as aggressive as he is right now. We need him to be like that the whole season. He’s a big part of (our team). We need him to continue to be aggressive. (Wade)’s confident in himself, and it shows,” Stokes said.
Brown talked about how he thinks Wade has evolved his game this offseason.
“I feel like this year, he’s definitely realizing that he’s a guy that can do anything he wants on the court. I’m seeing that in practice going against some of the other guys we have. It makes me happy, because I know it’s really going to help our team. He’s getting to the basket, he’s shooting better, and he’s improved his ball-handling. He’s improved his defense. He’s blocking shots and rebounding. There’s nothing he can’t do,” Brown said.
Wade talked about some expectations that he has for himself heading into next season.
“I really want to focus on my rebounding this year. We lost D.J. (Johnson) and Wes(ley Iwundu), who were huge for us in terms of the rebounding portions of the game. I just want to improve my in-game rebounding and my aggressiveness. There were times (last season) at the beginnings of games where I would score a lot, and then I wouldn’t do anything. I’m trying to minimize those this year,” Wade said.