Will Wade, Head Coach, Virginia Commonwealth Rams
Career Record: 65-36 (3 years; 25-11 at VCU, 40-25 at Chattanooga); one NCAA Tournament appearance; 1-1 NCAA Tournament record; one conference regular season title (shared)
Accomplishments: In two years at Chattanooga, led the Mocs to back-to-back second-place finishes in the Southern Conference and was named the 2014 SoCon Coach of the Year. Was also indirectly responsible for Chattanooga's 29-6 record in 2015-16 after leaving for VCU. Took over a VCU program that lost its top scorer and defensive ace from the previous year and led the Rams back to the NCAA Tournament, beating Oregon State in the first round before narrowly losing to Oklahoma.
Before He Was A Head Coach: A fast riser in the coaching business, Wade worked as a graduate assistant at his alma mater Clemson for two years before joining Tommy Amaker's staff at Harvard for two years, then spent four years as an assistant to Shaka Smart at VCU before becoming a head coach.
Ties to Vanderbilt: Officially none, but Wade grew up in Nashville and went to Franklin Road Academy, and he was allegedly a Vanderbilt fan growing up. Also shares a name with Vandy football great Bill Wade, though we really have no idea if they are related.
Stylistic Tendencies: Your immediate thought, I'm sure, is "turnovers," but when Wade was at Chattanooga the Mocs weren't all that great at forcing them -- and his VCU team, which ranked 19th in the country in defensive turnover percentage, might have been as much a reflection of the personnel left behind by Shaka Smart as anything else. If there is a consistent theme in Wade's short resume, it's offensive rebounding -- his VCU team and both of his teams at Chattanooga went hard on the offensive glass, and never has he had a team rank lower than third in the conference in offensive rebounding percentage. His Chattanooga teams also got to the foul line on a regular basis, perhaps indicating that he really prefers to play a physical style of basketball.
Would he come here? It seems like he would: Wade grew up in Nashville and you would think he'd look forward to a return home. But there are a couple of factors that would point toward no: he's in his first year at VCU and might not want to leave so soon, and if we're being honest with ourselves, going from VCU to Vanderbilt is more of a lateral move than we would like to think -- VCU reportedly offered Shaka Smart $2.6 million a year when Texas came calling, and previous coaches have shown that you can win big there.
Thoughts: Wade is an intriguing candidate. While his resume is pretty short, he's also shown himself to be a fast riser in the coaching business. That can be about getting the right breaks as much as anything else, though, and in Wade's case it came at the age of 26 when Shaka Smart hired him as an assistant at VCU. Then VCU's Final Four run two years later suddenly put VCU assistants in demand.
With that said -- there's enough on his resume to see some upside, and of all the candidates out there he's probably the closest thing to a lock to take the job if offered. That last factor may be leading some fans to overrate him, however, as this hire is quite a bit riskier than some believe. The good news, though, is that if Wade does work out, the upside may be very high, and his Nashville connections likely mean there's less of a chance that he would jump to a bigger job if he has success at Vanderbilt.