The Spark That Fuels The Flame
Feb. 18, 2003
By Allen Thigpen
He is considered one of the most athletic players on the Ole Miss basketball team, and with three years under his belt, he's arguably the most experienced. Though considered a catalyst on both ends of the floor and a team leader, he rarely appears in the starting lineup. Instead, Emmanuel Wade, the 6-foot-3 senior guard from Marianna Ark., makes his mark as the Rebels' ever-so-valuable sixth man.
"Coming off the bench my role is to come out and give the team a spark whether it's on offense or defense," said Wade. "Whenever my name is called on I want to be ready and prepared to do whatever it takes to help our team win."
For the past four seasons, Wade's name has been called on repeatedly in crunch time, and the senior has responded by delivering when the Rebels need it most. His moments of brilliance range from his game-saving 19-point performance against Iona in the 2001 NCAA Tournament to his most recent heroics last weekend in Baton Rouge. Wade's 16 points off the bench provided the Rebels a much needed spark in their key SEC road win.
"Against LSU in January, we saw what Emmanuel Wade can do," said head coach Rod Barnes. "If Emmanuel plays like that, we become a really good basketball team. Throughout this year, I've been looking for that from Emmanuel, and I think he's starting to do that. I'm excited to see what Emmanuel can do the rest of the year. If he continues to play like he did at LSU, we become one of the better teams in this league."
Part of his success can be attributed to his maturity as a player. After learning the lessons that come with three full seasons in the SEC, Wade approaches his job from a much different angle than he would have as a freshman.
"I probably would have come off the bench and not been aware of what was already going on during the game," said Wade, a career 34 percent shooter from behind the arc. "As a result, I wouldn't have provided help in the area we needed it most. This year when I'm on the bench I'm focusing on the game and trying to see in what area we're lacking. If we need a couple of stops or if somebody is not hitting shots then I'll go in and try to give us just that."
A greater commitment to greater focus and concentration is what Wade feels separates his current game from past versions.
"I've tried to teach myself how to concentrate and focus more on the job at hand instead of looking toward the future," said Wade. "I try to be well prepared before each game and not think about what happened in the last game. It's about taking it one game at a time."
In addition to stepping up his play over the past several years, the veteran Wade has developed into a team leader. Through experience, Wade believes that no matter where leadership is coming from, it can have a significant impact.
"I don't think the leadership role is different whether you're coming off the bench or you're in the game," said Wade. "A leader is a leader and you go out there and lead by example. I just like picking our team up from whatever situation we are in. If that's a leadership role, then I'll take it."
When his time is not being spent in practice or in games, Wade is busy using his unique off-the-court talent in art. His love for it has grown since reaching Ole Miss, so much to the point that what was once a simple interest has become a possible future career.
"Art can have an impact on a lot of people and it's influenced me over the last four years," said Wade, an Art major. "I was interested in art before I got to college, but I really didn't know about all the aspects of it. Now I do and, as a result, it's becoming more of a love for me."
Should a future in basketball not pan out, Wade plans to make a career in graphic design.
"After I graduate, if I'm not playing basketball, I'm probably going to try to work at a graphic design company. I'll maybe move to a big city and try to get a job in that field."
Though leaving the door open for anything, Wade said that, for now, all artistic endeavors will take a backseat to basketball.
"Basketball will always be my first love," said Wade. "I'll probably always be an artist, but at this point, I don't think I could put my basketball dreams on hold to accomplish my artistic dreams. I could play basketball over pretty much anything. It's my life. I've been doing it for 13 or 14 years now and I can't get enough of it."
When his senior year at Ole Miss comes to an end, Wade hopes that his efforts as the Rebels' sixth man will always be remembered for what they were.
"I just want people to remember me as a good basketball player that came out and gave his all when he got on the court."
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