Will Wade Season 2023-24
Coach Will Wade’s five-year tenure at LSU will be noted for consistent winning and a return to interest in the basketball program at LSU.
During his time in Baton Rouge, the Tigers won a Southeastern Conference regular season championship in 2019, advanced to four post-season tournaments (including consecutive NCAA Tournaments in 2019, 2021 and 2022) and advanced to an SEC Tournament championship game for the first time since 1993.
LSU in the last four seasons (2019-22) won 48 regular season SEC games, tied for the second most of any team over that period.
LSU won 20 games or more in three-of-the-five seasons at LSU and finished his time at LSU with a record of 105-51 with 196 career wins for his nine years as a head coach. He finished 55-33 in the SEC over that time. His 105 wins made him the fourth winningest coach in LSU Basketball history.
When he arrived in Baton Rouge, Wade wanted to make LSU basketball, a program which has had ultimate highs followed by periods of lows, be a consistent player on the college basketball scene.
He worked hard to put together a program with good players that produced consistent winning, regular post-season tournament appearances and playing an exciting brand of basketball that would see the Tigers contend for a top spot yearly in the Southeastern Conference.
Coach Wade was able to check many of those boxes of program building and program stability that he set out to accomplish when he was named the 22nd head coach of the LSU program prior to the 2017-18 season.
The Tigers advanced to the round of 16 in the NIT in 2018, to the Sweet 16 in the 2019 NCAA Championship, to the second round of the NCAAs in 2021 and a tournament appearance in 2022.
In 2019, Coach Wade, his staff and players put together a team that posted a 16-2 record in the Southeastern Conference, winning the 11th regular season title in school history.
It was all part of the vision the coach had for the program. It’s a vision 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 hard-working team that represents this great university that represents this great state.”
Frank William “Will” Wade said those words on March 20, 2017 when he was named the head coach at LSU. He came to LSU after a stellar two-year stint as the head coach at Virginia Commonwealth University and two years at UT-Chattanooga.
He was the first Tiger mentor to get the Tigers to post-season play in both of the first two seasons on the job. He is one of just five LSU coaches to lead his team to an SEC Championship and one of just four to take a team to the NCAA Sweet 16.
Wade has also brought analytics and trends to his coaching practices at LSU and his ability to quickly know situations and tendencies has proven beneficial to the Tigers in his first five seasons.
Coach Wade showed LSU followers that he looks to prepare his team for league play by producing a non-conference schedule that is competitive and among the best in the country. His schedule ranked fifth in the country in 2019 and eighth in the country in 2020.
In 2021-22, LSU put together a non-conference schedule that led to a top 20 NET rating entering the tournament. Injuries hurt the Tigers in mid-season after a strong start, but the Tiger team featured the Sixth Man of the Year in the league, Tari Eason, who was also first-team All-SEC. Four-year star Darius Days had his best season as a Tiger and finished his career as one of three players with 1,300 points, 800 rebounds and 125 steals in school history.
In 2021, LSU had to make several changes to the schedule because of the pandemic, losing and rescheduling several games in December and having the league change the schedule at one point on less than 48 hours notice with a road trip to Missouri becoming a road game at Ole Miss.
LSU would finish with one home loss for the second straight year, despite playing one less home game than other league schools, finishing at 7-1. The Tigers were third in the league, earning the double bye in the tournament for the third straight year. But this time LSU made the run that fans had been looking for, defeating Ole Miss and Arkansas to get to the SEC Championship game for the first time since the 1993 season.
The Tigers would proceed to the NCAA bubble in Indianapolis where they advanced to the second round.
The team featured a perfect blend of players led by freshman All-SEC scorer, Cameron Thomas, who led the league and was the nation’s top freshman in scoring at 23.0 points per game. He led the nation in free throws made with 194. Joining him were All-SEC sophomore Trendon Watford, junior Darius Days and a player who made dramatic improvement from his freshman to junior year to become one of the SEC’s top and most underrated point guards, Javonte Smart.
The team would average 81.8 points, marking the third straight year the Tigers averaged over 80 points a game. It was the highest scoring average since LSU averaged 87.5 points a game during the 1991-92 season. The three consecutive years marks the most since LSU had four straight seasons over 80 points from the 1988-89 season through the 1991-92 campaigns.
In 2020, LSU opened with eight straight conference wins as LSU tied for second place in the league one season after winning the league championship.
LSU was 8-1 in league play at the Maravich Center with a two-point win over Arkansas, a one-point win over Mississippi State (on a Skylar Mays buzzer beating jump shot) and a two-point win over Florida. LSU also won by four points at Texas A&M in overtime after rallying from six down in the final two minutes of regulation.
It was a season in which offense again dominated the nights when LSU had success, averaging 80.5 points a game.
Skylar Mays wrapped up his four-year career by having his best overall season, averaging 16.7 points a game with 5.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals a game. Mays, who played three years with Coach Wade and his staff, finished his career with 1,600 points, 450 rebounds, 350 assists and 200 steals.
The first-team All-SEC selection also showed his ability off the court earning his third College Sports Information Director Association of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-America honor in 2020. He was a second-team Academic A-A in 2018 and a first-team Academic A-A in both 2019 and 2020. The Baton Rouge native was named the CoSIDA Academic All-America of the Year for D1 men’s basketball.
The highlight of Wade’s five years came in 2019 when the Tigers won their first SEC title in 10 years and won two games in the NCAA Tournament to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2006. But it was also a year in which a coach and a team had to handle the worst possible tragedy, the death of a teammate.
Junior Wayde Sims was killed in the early morning of Sept. 28, 2018 just hours before what was to be the first team workout in preparation for the 2018-19 season.
The team dedicated the season to Wayde and his parents, which included former Tiger player Wayne Sims. It was a season in which time after time, the Tigers appeared to need a spark to stay alive for a win and things would turn around. LSU would go a perfect 9-0 in the league on the road, winning four overtime games and another at the buzzer. The Tigers would win 16 league games, one of their best overall 18-game league records.
Tremont Waters was a first-team All-SEC selection and the co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year while Naz Reid made the league all-freshman team.
PRIOR TO LSU
The native of Nashville, Tennessee, directed VCU to a 51-20 record and two NCAA Tournament appearances in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. 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 NCAA 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.
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 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 Tournaments 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Seasons Completed at LSU: Five
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
2017-22 – 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|
|2017-18||LSU||18-15||8-10||t-9th||NIT Round of 16|
|2018-19||LSU||25-5 *||15-2||1st||SEC Champs; NCAA Sweet 16; * did not coach final 5 games of season|
|2019-20||LSU||21-10||12-6||t-2nd||Postseason canceled by pandemic|
|2020-21||LSU||19-10||11-6||3rd||NCAA Round of 32|
|2021-22||LSU||22-11||9-9||t-5th||NCAA Round of 64; did not coach NCAA Tourn.|
|LSU||5 Seasons||105-51 (.673||55-33 (.625)|
|Total||9 Seasons||196-96 (.671)||110-48 (.696)|