When he makes his official visit to the University of Arkansas this weekend, Razorbacks hoops commit Mardracus Wade will have a couple of special guests.
"I am bringing my mom and dad up," Wade said. "I want to show them what I think is so great about Arkansas both athletically and academically and why it is where I going to play my college basketball."
Wade (6-3, 170) will join Tallahassee Community College combo forward Marvell Waithe (6-9, 215) as 2010 prospects taking official visits to Fayetteville this weekend.
There is also expected to be a quartet of 2011 prospects on hand - UA commit Aaron Ross (6-8, 220) of Little Rock Parkview, Jonesboro Westside forward Hunter Mickelson (6-10, 180), East Poinsett County guard Ky Madden (6-5, 180) and Memphis prep power forward Wayne Martin, Jr. (6-8, 225).
"It should be a lot of fun having all those guys up there, getting to be around the guys already on the team and getting to see a big football game (Arkansas-Auburn)," Wade said. "I'm really excited about getting up there and taking it all in."
Wade has certainly had a adjustment to make going from a happening metropolis like Memphis to Chatham, Va., which has Hargrave, a grocery story and not much else.
"It is indeed a major adjustment for me, from getting up at 6 every morning and going to bed by 10 every night," Wade said. "But then again there is not a lot to do here besides going to class and basketball anyway and that's just fine with me."
Wade (6-3, 170) committed to the Razorbacks back in August and joins Texas prep guard Rickey Scott (6-3, 195) in giving the program two 4-star guards that plan to sign with the UA in the early signing period November 11-18.
Wade, ranked as the 95th best player nationally in latest 2010 class rankings by Scout.com, made the decision to transfer from Memphis Mitchell to Hargrave for both his athletic and academic development.
"Here every day in practice you are going against a team full of Division I prospects and that means you are getting better every day at practice," Wade said. "Practice is just so much more intense than in high school. And then when we get to the games it is just going to be against the best talent in the country every night.
"I'm also really hitting the weight room and I am getting bigger and stronger and can really feel that," Wade added. "I am also working real hard on improving my shot and just all parts of my game.
"Being at Hargrave also just gives me a great opportunity to concentrate on school without any distractions," Wade continued. "I think this is the perfect fit for me."
Wade averaged 19.4 points for Mitchell last season and ended up choosing Arkansas over Missouri, Alabama, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
While he says there were several factors that went into things, there were two that really stuck out for him about John Pelphrey's program.
"I just really like and believe in Coach Pelphrey and Coach Tom Ostrom," Wade said. "I also think that coaching staff is going to get things turned around this year, we are going to shock some people and then me and some other guys are just going to get up there and keep things going and probably take it even further."
Hargave will get its season going in early November, but will have a few high-profile exhibitions to help prepare for the season.
"We are going to play Oak Hill in a scrimmage on October 15 at some high school and then play a couple of junior colleges," Wade said. "That will help us really see where we are at – which I think is going to be very good. We've got like 10 guys that can rotate in and out."
That includes Pittsburgh point guard commit Isaiah Epps (6-2, 165), North Carolina State small forward commit Lorenzo Brown (6-4, 175), Florida State power forward commit Dominique Ferguson (6-8, 200) and center Shawn Kemp, Jr. (6-9, 215).
"That's a lot of great players and just some of them, but that is likely to be the starting line up as of right now," Wade said.
Kemp – the son of the former NBA player of the same name – was committed to Alabama, but has opened things back up.
"The main players are Georgia, Arkansas, Auburn and Marshall," Hargrave Military coach Kevin Keatts told Scout.com.
Keatts is a guy who coaches a style that Wade is happy to be playing.
"We are going to get at it full court and get after people defensively from one end of the court to the other," Wade said. "We are also going to be running on offense and just play at a high tempo, just like Coach Pelphrey wants to do at Arkansas."
Wade appears ready to settle in at the shooting guard while backing up Epps at point guard.
"That's where I am going to be out there the most at – shooting guard – although I will be backing up Isaiah at point guard," Wade said. "My goal is to just go out there every day and become the best combo guard I can be whether I am handling and passing it more or needing to knock down some baskets. I just want to be as complete a guard as I can be once I get to Arkansas."
While that part of his game is certainly a strength, it's his defense that brings the most rave reviews.
"That's what I am all about – not letting you score and making my defense a weapon against the other team's top scorer," Wade said. "I like to be the guy that you just don't want to have guarding you."
Dave Telep, Scout.com's national director of scouting, is a big fan of that defense.
"I think that Mardracus is one of, if not the best, defensive guards in the class," Telep said. "He is a combo guard that can really lock people down and affect a big game in a big way with his defense alone.
"He's also very good at getting to the basket, very strong inside the lane and just needs to improve his outside shot to be one of the best out there," Telep added. "He is extremely athletic and if that shot gets better, he is just going to be killing it for Arkansas."
While Wade and Scott have not played each other, the Hargrave prospect says he hears good things about the Irving (Texas) MacArthur one.
"I have never gotten the opportunity to play against him, but I hear is a cool guy and a great player that can really shoot it and is just going to make our backcourt even stronger," Wade said. "I am looking forward to playing alongside him for the next four years and trying to get us back in the NCAA Tournament on a regular basis and getting us all the way to the Final Four and maybe even have a chance to win the national championship."
Wade is familiar with Waithe.
"I have seen him play a couple of times and he is just a great talent," Wade said. "It would be great to get him, too, because he would fit in right away and be a guy that can get up and down the floor and has great skill," Wade said. "I think we are going to get a great group of guys and just keep adding parts and be a very successful program."
Wade had mentioned when he committed to the Razorbacks that he hoped to bring along fellow Memphis native Tarik Black (6-8, 230).
"I'm still talking to him about how he needs to be a Razorback," Wade said. "I am not trying to pressure him about it, just staying in contact and keeping Arkansas in his ear. I don't think he is planning on signing early so I will keep on him."
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