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Sunday, September 24, 2023


Silent Assassin: Wade’s offense a welcome addition

Asking others about Cougar freshman point guard Desmond Wade simply won’t do.

You have to see the kid in action to understand and appreciate his talents.

Through four games, Wade seems to have a good grasp of head coach Tom Penders’ offense. His ball handling has been sharp and his playmaking ability has been even better. His defense has been terrific. Plus, he can shoot a little.

But don’t worry about Wade’s shooting touch because the Cougars have plenty of guys who can put the ball in the basket. His No. 1 responsibility is to keep the Cougar offense running like a well-oiled machine, and he’s making good on this task.

Wade’s best outing to date came in Tuesday’s 110-57 thrashing of Alcorn State at Hofheinz Pavilion. He scored 14 points, had game-highs of nine assists and three steals, and put a clamp on Alcorn State senior point guard Jumane Reed (2 points, five turnovers).

But wait, it gets even better.

Wade committed only one turnover. As a result, the Cougars (3-1) finished with only five turnovers, having zero at halftime.

Wade was simply amazing. And to think, he’s only a freshman.

"Obviously, I’m pleased with what Desmond’s bringing to the team so early in his career," Penders said. "I had a good feeling about him because he had started every game in high school since he was a freshman, but you never know how that translates when they make the big step to college.

"But he’s got a great head, a great attitude and a really good feel and understanding for the game. He gives it up at the right time, his decision-making is very good and he’s very, very solid on the defensive end, which is extremely important. For a kid out of high school to be playing the kind of defense that he’s been playing is very, very important."

Wade, who grew up in Linden, N.J., appears well on his way to becoming a top-notch point guard. That’s a good thing for the Cougars, who haven’t had that sort of play at point guard the last two seasons.

Former standout Robert "Fluff" McKiver served primarily in this role for the last two seasons, but was a combo guard at best, too shot-happy to be considered a legitimate point guard. Fellow former standout Lanny Smith was a solid point guard for the first three years of his career, but was sidelined in 2006-07 with a foot injury and could not regain his form in 2007-08, his last season with the Cougars.

But in comes Wade to fix the problem, bringing some lofty goals with him.

"I really wanted to get 10 assists and get everyone involved (in Tuesday’s game)," Wade said. "I came up short, but everyone played well tonight. I was just dishing the ball out tonight."

Can Wade perform even better than that? He hopes so.

"It’s tough (to get 10 assists); you don’t really see that very often," he said. "But that’s my goal, to average 10 assists a game."

Those are big words coming from the 5-8, 145-pound Wade. But for a guy who thinks big and plays even bigger, you have to like his approach to the game.

Wade has this season plus three more years, if he chooses, to run the Cougars’ offense, and he’s only going to get better.

He’s the future of this program. And with Wade at the helm, the future looks good.

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