published Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Will Wade recruiting 'every day' for UTC men's basketball team

Will Wade talks about the 2013 basketball Mocs from his office inside McKenzie Arena.
Will Wade talks about the 2013 basketball Mocs from his office inside McKenzie Arena.
Photo by Tim Barber.

Will Wade's office on the fourth floor of McKenzie Arena is still a little sparse.

But the new University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball coach made sure he brought a few necessary items from Virginia Commonwealth.

They include about a dozen three-inch three-ring binders full of practice plans and a picture of the VCU bench celebrating an NCAA tournament upset.

He also has a design board showing plans for new seating in the arena.

Resting on the edge of his solid wood desk are four pieces of jewelry. They're three watches, one given every year for reaching the NCAA tournament, and a 2011 Final Four ring.

"Recruiting is all about telling a story, so all this stuff feeds into telling a story," Wade said. "It livens up what you're doing and it shows tangible items of what you can achieve through working hard and different places you've been."

Since his hiring on May 13, recruiting has been atop Wade's list of priorities, which also include buying a home, meeting people associated with UTC, hiring a staff and learning through video the skill sets of returning players.

"Recruiting is like shaving," the 30-year-old said, "if you don't do it every day, you look like a bum. I don't know who said it first, but I like it."

The focus of Wade's early recruiting at UTC has centered around players he was involved with while coaching at VCU. The first two additions to the UTC roster were guard Anthony Doyle, who committed to play for UTC assistant Wes Long at Queens, and VCU transfer Justin Tuoyo.

"We've offered [scholarships to] eight to 10 kids who will graduate in 2014, and all of them are kids who in some way or another I've developed a close relationship with, because we want guys who fit our profile," Wade said. "The biggest thing in recruiting is that you want to eliminate as much risk as possible, because it's an inexact science."

Wade still is looking to fill out the roster for the 2013-14 season with the likely departures of junior Jared Bryant and former walk-on Sam Watson, who had a scholarship last season.

"We're still working through all of that with them," Wade said. "They're two separate cases and two separate issues. I can't talk about Bryant's situation. Watson is not going to be on scholarship."

Watson's likely transfer opens up one immediate scholarship. Another could become available when Bryant's situation is settled.

"We want to sign he best guy we can," Wade said. "A big would be nice, or another ball-handler would be nice. We're not going to be picky. A one-year guy would be preferable because we need to balance out our classes."

Former coach John Shulman had instructions the last two summers not to recruit junior college transfers. Former athletic director Rick Hart also has moved on, and Wade said the ban on junior college players does not exist.

"We haven't been told anything like that," Wade said. "Our job is to bring in the best student athletes that can and will graduate. Everything is open, and it's on a case-by-case basis."

But all recruits need to fit UTC's new recruiting profile.

"Some of the main things we want are quickness, high-motor, stamina, and we never want to get light on shooting," Wade said. "We want guys who are on the way up."

There are intrinsic attributes as well.

"We want guys who want to be at Chattanooga and have a high level of appreciation and are excited to be a part of the program," he added. "We don't want anybody who feels like they're doing us a favor.

"We're fired up to be here, and we want guys who want to be here too."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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