Frank William “Will” Wade was named the 22nd head men’s basketball coach at LSU on March 20, 2017. He comes to LSU after a two-year stint as the head coach at Virginia Commonwealth University with four years of very successful experience as a head basketball coach.
Wade was introduced to LSU fans in a most unique way for an introduction of a Tiger coach -- at a special media event held in the middle of the LSU Student Union. Wade told the media and a large contingent of LSU students:
“I am so excited about the opportunity to lead this program and LSU Basketball back to the top of the SEC and back to regular, consistent NCAA Tournament appearances. We have been to four Final Fours. We have been to 20 NCAA Tournaments. We have 10 SEC Championships, and we are going to add to all three of those categories over our tenure here.
“We are going to have players, staff members, everyone in our program is going to be committed to doing what it takes to make LSU the best basketball program that it can be. We are going to have unwavering commitment to put the team first, to put the state first, to put our school first to represent all of these folks in a first-class fashion. We are going to be a hardworking team that represents this great university that represents this great state,” Wade said.
LSU and its fans are not looking for a rebuilding program, but taking the foundation and making it solid again – a change of culture that gives the program a look of consistency year-after-year.
Wade, one of the youngest coaches in Division I at 34, but one of the most energetic showed his recruiting chops early with a class for the 2017-18 season that was ranked 16th in college basketball in the composite recruiting rankings.
Wade’s recruiting chops and promotional ideas has created a buzz in the pre-season that hasn’t been seen too often and the Coach has done his part, speaking most of the summer on the Tiger Tour and to student groups making sure they feel a part of the program. Coach Wade has been seen on the night prior to football game visiting with folks in the RV lots and on the first day of school was out in a golf cart picking up students and giving them a lift to opening day classes.
The native of Nashville, Tennessee, directed VCU to a 51-20 record and two NCAA Tournament appearances the last two seasons. The 2016 Rams advanced to the second round of the tournament, defeating seventh-seed Oregon State before losing to Oklahoma. Wade was the youngest head coach in the NCAA Tournament in 2016. In 2017, VCU lost to St. Mary’s in the first round of the 2017 tourney.
The Rams were 28-8 over his two years in the Atlantic 10 Conference, posting 14-4 records both years. The team was 25-11 in 2016 and earned a share of the Atlantic 10 Conference regular season crown. The 2017 team won 26 games and finished second in the league, one-game behind Dayton.
Under his tutelage, guard Melvin Johnson earned First Team All-Atlantic 10 honors in 2015-16 while Je Quan Lewis represented VCU on the 2016-17 first team. Mo Alie-Cox was named to the A-10 Defensive Team in both 2016 and 2017.
Wade, age 34, previously served at VCU as an assistant with the Rams under Shaka Smart from 2009-13. VCU was 113-37 during that time, reached three NCAA Tournament and won the 2012 Colonial Athletic Association Championship. He was part of the staff in 2011 when VCU advanced from the NCAA “First Four” all the way to the Final Four in Houston.
During his tenure as a Ram assistant, Wade, who worked closely with VCU’s post players, saw the Milwaukee Bucks select center Larry Sanders with the 15th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft (now with Cleveland). In addition, Wade played a major role in the development of current NBA players Troy Daniels (Memphis) and Briante Weber (Charlotte). Weber owns VCU records for 3-pointers in a single season and career steals.
Wade is credited with being a key figure in four top non-power five recruiting classes in his four seasons at VCU.
Prior to becoming the head coach at VCU, Wade served as the head coach at Chattanooga for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.
His first Mocs squad went 18-15 in 2014, finishing 12-6 and second in regular season Southern Conference play. The 18 wins overall were the most by the program since 2008-09 and the 12 wins in league games was the highest total since 2010-11. The team made the school’s first postseason appearance since 2009 in the CIT.
Wade was honored with the Anton Foy Southern Conference Coach of the Year award for his efforts in 2014. Also that year, Z. Mason became the first Chattanooga student-athlete to win the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award.
The Mocs won 22 games in 2015 and finished 15-3 in the league as Wade guided Chattanooga to its first 20-win season since 2004-05. He finished his two seasons there at 40-25 and 27-7 in league play. In the two seasons prior to his arrival, Chattanooga was 24-40 overall and 13-23 in SoCon play.
In his four years as a head coach, he has a combined record at Chattanooga and VCU of 91-45 and 55-15 in conference play with three post-season appearances.
Wade’s reputation, where ever he has coached, is a person who is a tireless worker and relentless recruiter. Wade was VCU Head Coach Shaka Smart’s first hire upon being named the head VCU coach in 2009.
That reputation was cemented prior to his arrival on the VCU campus. He served as an assistant to Tommy Amaker at Harvard in 2007-08 and 2008-09. Much like at VCU, he was Amaker’s first hire. In their second year, the Crimson went 14-14, the first season of .500 or better in the program since 2001-02. Wade had a hand in the development of future NBA standout Jeremy Lin and assembled a top 25 recruiting class during his stay.
Wade’s coaching start came at Clemson where he served as Director of Basketball Operations (2006-07) and Graduate Assistant (2005-06) after four seasons as a student manager (2002-05). There he worked for coaches Larry Shyatt (2002-03) and Oliver Purnell (2004-07).
In eight years on coaching staffs at Clemson, Harvard and VCU, the teams had a record of 177-97 with six postseason appearances (2005-13).
Wade is married to the former Lauren Deason, and the couple has one daughter, Caroline Elizabeth.
The Will Wade File
Birthdate: Nov. 26, 1982
Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee
High School: Franklin Road Academy
College: Clemson, 2005
Wife: Lauren Deason
Child: Caroline Elizabeth
Wade’s College Coaching Experience
2005-06 Clemson, Graduate Assistant
2006-07 Clemson, Director of Operations
2007-09 Harvard, Assistant Coach
2009-13 VCU, Assistant Coach
2013-15 UT-Chattanooga, Head Coach
2015-17 VCU, Head Coach
March 22, 2017 - Present: LSU, Head Coach
Will Wade's Head Coaching Record
|2013-14||Chattanooga||18-15||12-4||2nd||CIT 1st Round|
|2015-16||VCU||25-11||14-4||t-1st||A-10 Co-Champs; NCAA Round of 32|
|2016-17||VCU||26-9||14-4||2nd||NCAA Round of 64|
|Total||4 Seasons||91-45 (.669)||55-15 (.786)|