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Monday, May 2, 2016

Leadership leads Wade to Dyersburg State

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

DYERSBURG BOUND: From left are: Koshkonong assistant coach Charlie Ballard, Koshkonong head coach David Miller, Johna Wade, Dyersburg State head coach Rian Puckett and Junction Hill coach Dan Taylor. Photo/Mullins
Times can be tough when you're the leader of a young basketball team.

Especially when you're a young player, yourself.

That kind of pressure can either crush you, or it can land you on the All-Conference list. The choice is yours. It just depends on how hard you want to work.

Good thing Johna Wade is a hard worker.

Pressed into a major role for the Koshkonong Lady Bluejays as a freshman, Wade rolled up her sleeves, hit the hardwood and never stopped working.

Now all those hours of sweat and toil have paid off for Wade.

She signed a letter of intent May 12 to play college basketball next season at Dyersburg State College in Dyersburg, Tenn.

Just how important has Wade been to the Lady Bluejays the past four years? The simple answer is a lot, according to Lady Jay Head Coach David Miller.

"She's been one of the main players on this team. Her and my other two seniors," he said. "They've started since their freshmen year. I haven't had a senior on the team (until this year) in three years, so they've pretty much had to be seniors and lead their entire careers."

Wade started at shooting guard her freshman and sophomore seasons before moving over to the point the past two seasons. She was named to the All-Conference squad four straight years and racked up 1,603 points during her outstanding high school career.

And one thing even the casual viewer of Lady Jay hoops the past few years could see -- that number 22 can really shoot the ball. To back this up, Wade recently won the 3-point shooting contest in the Grizzly All-Star Classic in West Plains, surprising no one, including her coach.

"Her shooting is definitely one of the strong parts of her game. She gets her shot off quick and is accurate when she shoots," Miller said. "She'll spend hours upon hours practicing. She shoots about 200 shots a day in order to prepare. And not just that -- she's really knowledgeable about the game. She's one of the hardest workers I've ever coached. It's kind of like having another coach on the floor."

The ability Wade has to stick the ball in the hoop is the first thing that caught the eyes of first-year Dyersburg State Head Coach Rian Puckett. That and her knack of never giving up.

"She's obviously a good shooter. But I also think she's got a great work ethic with a lot of tenacity," he said. "With her, you're getting a kid that's not going to quit. She'll do pretty much anything you ask, and that's important."

Wade averaged a shade over 24 points a game this season, along with 5.2 boards, 4.3 assists and 3.1 steals per outing.

"We depended on her for about a third of our points this year," Miller said. "Her scoring has went up every year. From 18 to 20 points her first couple of years to 24 this year. That takes work."

As comfortable in the classroom as she is the hardwood, Miller thinks Wade should excel at both in college, as well.

"I think she'll do well at college. She's really good about catching on quickly and working hard to make herself ready. And her academic scores are high, so I really don't think college will be a problem for her," he said.

Puckett, too, thinks Wade should fit right in at Dyersburg State, and have an immediate impact on his young squad.

"We're looking for Johna to come in and be solid. I know she can shoot and she scored a lot of points in high school, but we're looking for her to come in and play some solid point guard for us. Make good decisions, be consistent and not turn the ball over, is what we're looking for out of her, and I think she'll fit in well. We're going to be a young team next year, so she's going to come in and play right off the bat."

Wade's parents, Rick and Jackie, were also present at the signing ceremony held in the Koshkonong High School Gym.

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