Tigers fans were excited. Rams fans were, and are disgusted.
With that being said…No respect for Will Wade. Good luck at a lesser program and a purely football school, coach. You'll miss us.jQuery17209751684790584638_1490115025835??????????????????????????????
— Emily G. (@EmilyAlyse5) March 21, 2017
In the end, multiple reports surfaced saying Wade didn't even tell his team he was leaving. If true, that's just plain sad — but his players might actually be happy to see him go.
Tension at VCU
There have been several reports citing tension between Wade and his players, coaches and administrators at VCU. Mat Shelton-Eide, the owner of VCURamNation.com and probably the most connected VCU media member in the business summed it up pretty well.
"Traveling with some former VCU players this summer on our TBT trip, you could tell there was a love and respect for Shaka Smart and Mike Rhoades (former assistant) that just wasn't extended to Will Wade," Shelton-Eide told HERO Sports. "While I think he's clearly a basketball mastermind from everyone I've talked to, he has a long way to go in terms of building strong relationships. I think people liked him as an assistant for the most part, but when he got in a position of power, things seemed to change."
I touched base with a few other sources who shared similar thoughts.
"We'll be stronger coming out of this," one source inside the program told HERO Sports. "Could be one step back early on, but many steps forward ultimately."
Another high school coach that dealt with VCU regularly echoed the sentiments.
"Blessing in disguise in the end," the coach, who chose to be anonymous, said. "In the end, in dealing with both coaches [Smart and Wade], it's for the best."
I don't want to speculate too much, but it certainly looks like there was some tension behind closed doors. These tweets from current players make it obvious Wade didn't tell them before taking the LSU job, which says enough in itself.
— J Tillman (@JTillman23) March 21, 2017
When reality hits, it really hits
— JeQuan lewis (@thatlewiskid1) March 21, 2017
Faith In God Not In Man
— De'Riante (@D_Jenkins0) March 21, 2017
Did he make VCU better?
Maybe I'm in the minority, but I'm not sure why Wade was so highly sought after in the first place. The guy came in to replace Shaka Smart — who transformed the Rams from a casual mid-major into a perennial NCAA tournament contender. When Wade got to Richmond, there was a shiny new $25 million state-of-the-art facility and any resource he could want at his disposal. Smart built it and Wade reaped the benefits.
From and outsider who knows nothing about VCU basketball, that looks pretty darn good.
But Smart was the one that turned VCU into a staple in the NCAA tournament. The rise of the program was at its peak in 2011, during VCU's magical run to the Final Four. When Smart left for Texas after the 2014-15 season, the program was in great shape. Wade took over a group that came off a 26-10 season and an Atlantic 10 title. He led them to that second-round game against Oklahoma with an ultra-talented roster, one that Smart meticulously crafted.
In Wade's two years in Richmond, only two of his recruits (Ahmed Hamdy and Samir Doughty) ever played meaningful minutes.
The primary contributions came from JeQuan Lewis, Justin Tillman, Mo Alie Cox and the rest of Smart's leftovers.
So what exactly did Wade do again?
There's no denying Wade's upside as a brilliant x's and o's guy with a strong hoops acumen. The point is he didn't stay long enough at VCU to bring out his potential, but instead, milked the situation he was given.
Will he do well at LSU? That's yet to be determined. But it's clear Wade burned plenty of bridges in his short stay in Richmond.