Kaysvile • Before the season, Davis boys basketball coach Jay Welk sat down with talented incoming sophomore Jesse Wade, wanting to make one thing clear: While varsity minutes were available for Wade, they would have to be earned rather than given.
Months later, in a dimly lit hallway outside the Darts' gym, Wade recalled that conversation and the single-minded determination it provoked.
He thought back to where he had been three months ago before the season, marveled at where he was now and spoke with hope of where he was heading.
Three months ago, Wade was an unproven sophomore soaking in varsity experience. Now, he's the leading scorer for a team contending for a Region 1 title. It's impossible to say what the future holds for Wade, but those who have shared the court with him are certain it will be bright.
"He's easily already one of the best players in the state," senior teammate Braden Koelliker said. "I think that comes from work ethic the kid's always in the gym shooting, trying to make himself better. He's in the weight room, always getting better."
Listed generously at 6-foot and weighing perhaps 165 pounds, Wade's stature is not imposing. He speaks in a polite tone and prefers to defer credit for his success to his teammates. Yet, his desire to get better shines through.
Though he is averaging over 15 points a game on a team filled with scorers and drawing the attention of several major colleges, he is not satisfied. Wade needs to get stronger to bang with the bigger bodies and finish near the hoop. And he wants to become a lock-down defender.
"I'm nowhere where I want to be right now," he said.
It is that attitude that has endeared his teammates to him. Though he's not old enough to have the keys to a car, they are unafraid to put the keys to the offense in his hands in crucial moments of games. They know he has put in the work. If he misses a big shot or turns the ball over, it's because sometimes even talented players fail, not because his youth or a lack of preparation.
"Sometimes you do have to get after the young guys, but that's never the case with Jesse," Koelliker said. "He's always self-motivated."
The faith Wade's teammates have shown in him has led to confidence. After an initial adjustment to the physical play of high school ball, Wade feels like he belongs, and the results have followed.
"After missing a shot, he could go down and be timid with the ball, but that's not him," Koelliker said. He's always attacking."
Though Wade is the Darts' leading scorer, it has helped that he doesn't have to win games alone. Davis' other star guard, Abel Porter is averaging over 14 points. Forwards Cole Hally and Koelliker are also liable to lead the team in scoring on any given night.
Knowing this has helped Wade find a comfort zone that, in turn, has led to his success.
"As a team, we carry the load. No person has more pressure than another," Wade said. "We all just go out there and play."
About Jesse Wade
Wade has led Davis to Region 1 title contention.
The sophomore is averaging more than 15 points a game.
His coach calls him one of the best players in the state.