For Wade, home is where the boards are

January 16, 1997


Staff Writer

Devon Wade enjoys hanging out in the neighborhood, but he knows he's needed at home.

And home for the Hagerstown Junior College freshman is under the basket.

"It's a big change, but I feel like I'm at home," the 6-foot-8 forward-center said. "When I was growing up, I would practice to play down low with my dad. He helped me with my inside moves. I'd rather be outside, but I have to do whatever I need to help the team."

Thanks to the Hawks' trials and tribulations with academic woes and injuries, this home is where Wade's heart has to be. When the season began, Wade was a carefree forward, working for jump shots. That's the 'Hood - the 3-point area where a player can make his game look good without suffering bruises.


"In high school, I was a big man, but I played outside a lot," Wade said. "I shot outside a lot because I didn't drive with the ball. I didn't start working on my ball-handling skills until this year."

Now, Wade has become HJC's "No Trespassing" sign. The Chester, Pa., native is one of only two legitimate big men HJC has left on its roster. He doesn't face the basket anymore, he plays with his back to it. Jump shots have given way to power moves and rebounds.

"I've never rebounded this much in my life," Wade said. "But the more I do it, the more I like it. When I got 20 (rebounds) against Tunisia, I started to like it and started challenging myself to try and get 30 in a game. I could have had it the other day, but I slacked up in the second half."

Wade has become a rebounding machine for the Hawks. Earlier this month, Wade collected 57 points and 56 rebounds in a three-game stretch against teams from New York. He had 21 points and 23 rebounds on Jan. 4 against Monroe Community College, his first as the Hawks' featured rebounder.

"Devon, above everyone else, has been asked to go into a new position and do more than what's expected," HJC coach Jim Brown said. "He's a finesse player who loves to play the perimeter, but now we need him on the inside to play with power. He just keeps getting better and better as he gets stronger. It will be interesting to see how good he can be with maturity."

The change in position has brought a change in Wade. Instead of using his finesse game, Wade has had to become more aggressive with power moves - the things he learned while practicing with his father, Louis, in his younger days. Anyone who has played basketball can tell you that the key is as rough as any neighborhood.

"My dad was always telling me that I've done more scoring than him, but he's a better rebounder," Wade said. "I'm changing that. You have to be more aggressive when you're down low. If you're not banging, you're not getting anything done. And if your not getting anything done, you're not helping the team."

The team is a major consideration to Wade. HJC has been searching for an identity and has been on a roll since Wade has accepted his new role. The Hawks face two big tests this week, playing No. 3-ranked Allegany on Wednesday before heading to Vermont to meet No. 5 Champlain this weekend.

"I was telling my teammates that we have lost some big games, but if we can come out of this week undefeated we will be in a strong position," Wade said. "I try to rise to the occasion in the big games. Usually when we are the underdogs or we are facing an All-American, that's when I play my best. All I'm doing now is going in there and bangin' with the big boys."

At HJC, home has become a better place since Devon Wade moved in.

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