Jeff Jones began his involvement with college basketball in 1978, the first of his four-year run as a guard on some of Virginia’s most memorable teams. He then coached, at U.Va., American and now, Old Dominion.
So when Jones recently said that 6-foot-5 Monarchs freshman Jason Wade, a graduate of Trinity Episcopal, “is about as competitive as any student-athlete that I’ve ever been around,” that carries some oomph.
Wade plays 19 minutes a game, averaging 4 points and 4 rebounds for ODU (21-6, 11-3 Conference USA), which won 10 of its past 11 and 19 of its past 22.
“He is a terrific young man. He’s extremely well-liked. That’s the starting point for me,” Jones said. “It’s funny how easygoing he is off the court, and he just kind of transforms when he’s on the court.”
The edge with which Wade competes was inherited, in a way, from his father. Ronnie Wade grew up in Richmond and starred as a 6-6 forward at Marshall-Walker High, before a strong career at ODU (1982-86).
“Jason is a throwback player,” Jones said when Wade signed with the Monarchs.
“He is tough and makes winning basketball plays that make his teammates better. His basketball IQ is off the charts. He probably gets that from his father.”
Ronnie Wade said Monday he remembers as a ninth-grader participating in regular pickup games with older players, such as former University of Richmond star Michael Perry, ex-VCU star Edmund Sherod, and others who were Division I standouts at the time, or previously were.
“You really had to play tough. You had to play smart. They were men,” Ronnie Wade said. “I made sure [Jason] went through the same process I went through.”
Signing with Old Dominion, following his father’s successful experience there, was not a given for Jason Wade.
He took several recruiting visits, with Ronnie Wade offering this advice: “You will know the difference between ‘like’ and ‘love.’ You’ll know the ones that like you. And you’ll know the ones that love you. I won’t have to tell you anything. You’ll figure it out.”
Jason’s older brother, Jordan, also is a member of the ODU basketball program, as a student manager.
In his free time, Jordan Wade officiates high school games in the Norfolk area.
The Monarchs are C-USA’s top seed heading into the four-game, regular-season-ending, flex portion of the league schedule. ODU will face visiting Western Kentucky (16-11, 9-5) on Saturday, and then UTSA (15-12, 9-5), Southern Mississippi (17-9, 9-5) and UAB (16-11, 8-6), the four teams behind the Monarchs in the standings.
The league this year modified its traditional scheduling format with the late-season pod system. The goal is advancing multiple teams to the NCAA tournament, which C-USA hasn’t done since 2012.
Ronnie Wade was a very active and physical interior player. Jason Wade’s skill set includes more backcourt ability. There is a link.
Ronnie Wade said he learned early in his basketball career that if a player can determine what the team need is for a particular game and fill it, there will be minutes. His son has become equally adaptable, Jones said.
“Jason has done a great job of coming off the bench, giving us a lift with hustle plays, offensive rebounds, steals. He’s just always around the ball,” Jones said.
“We’re very, very high on him. He’s got a very high ceiling.”