Five years after leading the St. John Tigers to a 49-44 victory over Central Plains High School to claim state championship honors, Dean Jackson Wade was again on the St. John High School basketball court.
Wade was honored at a recognition ceremony to retire his SJHS No. 32 basketball jersey on Friday, Feb. 14, in his home town. The uniform will now be enshrined in a showcase commemorating his successes.
The ceremony was in conjunction with St. John High School 2020 Winter Homecoming activities, with both boys and girls varsity basketball teams facing off against the Victoria Knights.
Superintendent Josh Meyer said school board members voted last fall to give recognition to Wade for his basketball skills and also his team sportsmanship and the role Wade played in St. John’s historic basketball successes. Since then, the board had been trying to set a date around Wade’s schedule.
"We got word this week that he was coming home, so we thought tonight’s homecoming game would be a perfect time to celebrate," Meyer said.
Sara Fisher, representing the St. John Booster Club, commented on Wade’s hard work to attain his successes which will be displayed in the Booster Club tribute to the hometown hero.
"Everyone loves Dean and they can’t wait to catch a high-five," Fisher said.
Along with Wade’s No. 32 jersey, a memorabilia showcase will also display Wade’s accomplishments, including accolades and pictures.
Fisher said plans are for the display to be in place by the end of the school year. It will be located outside on the west side of the gymnasium in the recessed section next to the water fountain.
The display case will be built by SJHS teacher Adam Moritz and students.
"Dean, we are very proud of you and we want you to follow your dream as you continue to entertain us on the basketball court," Fisher said.
Meyer highlighted Wade’s accomplishment, including that Wade scored 1,749 points in his career.
"You’re a great role model," Meyer said.
The 6-foot-10 Wade led St. John High School to three Kansas State Basketball Championships between the 1A/2A Division I level as the No. 1-rated player in the state of Kansas.
He also won the Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year in 2014.
"Walking into the gym and seeing all the familiar faces was special to me," Wade said. "It’s something I’ll remember the rest of my life. I’m very appreciative of this special honor."
Attending with 23-year-old Wade, SJHS Class of 2015, were his father, Jay Wade, and his mother, Trish Wade, who is a coach and teaches elementary through high school physical education classes at USD 350. A rousing crowd of Tigers’ basketball fans were also packed into the gym for the special occasion.
SJHS basketball coach Clint Kinnamon, who coached Wade throughout the hometown hero’s high school play, with a record of 59 consecutive victories during Wade’s junior and senior years, was also there for the presentation.
"I’m so proud of the player he’s turned into," Kinnamon said.
Wade’s basketball successes continued throughout his college years at Kansas State University in Manhattan, and Wade finished his K-State career in 2019 with honors as the first player in K-State Wildcat basketball history to record 1,000 points, with 100 three-pointers, 500 rebounds and 100 steals.
Wade also became just the second player in K-State history to claim honors as first-team All-Big 12 in consecutive seasons.
Wade is currently an American Professional Basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association, on a two-way contract with the Canton Charge of the NBAG League.