Over the past two seasons, Gonzaga has elevated itself to new heights. From making the National Championship game, to producing its first one-and-done, these are special times for Gonzaga fans.
While all of this success has been occurring for the program, the Zags have had a significant piece of their future 1000’s of miles away. However, earlier this week, one of the key guys that will help continue to push the program to new places, returned from his LDS Mission. Now, Jesse Wade, a 4-star PG in the 2015 class, is gearing up to make his impact in Spokane.
Over the past two years, Wade has been serving his LDS Mission, with different stops in Europe. Throughout the journey, the talented PG has grown in numerous ways.
“I think when I look back on it, the thing that I will really remember and takeaway is what service means,” Wade explained. “I learned how to find myself through the service. When you spend your time focusing on serving other people, you learn to forgot about yourself and your own needs. I think one of the other big things I will takeaway is the importance of working hard. It wasn’t always easy during those two years, as you are spending all day walking around and talking to people on the streets, so I think I really developed a greater appreciation for hard work.”
Wade and his family shared a beautiful video showcasing the moment he was able to see his family for the first time in two years. Although it’s nearly impossible, Jesse did try and explain what that moment felt like.
“As a missionary, you are gone for two years,” said the former Utah player of the year. “You think about it sometimes, and it feels like you will never actually come home. As I came out to the terminal and looked around the corner, I was just filled with so many emotions. I was so happy to see my family, but at the same time, I had just said goodbye to my family and friends in France and Switzerland. It’s a really intense moment with every emotion you can imagine.”
During his time on his Mission, the future Gonzaga point guard was able to keep some tabs on his team, but admits that it was hard to follow closely.
“I was able to follow them a bit. The coaching staff would send me some updates on what was going on, and between that and my parents and friends, I was able to stay up to date. It was something where I wasn’t able to know the scores of each game or which guys were playing really well, but I was able to know the basics.”
Although he wasn’t able to follow each game, Wade wasn’t at all surprised by the success of the past two years.
“When I committed, I knew the kind of coaches and players that were at Gonzaga,” he said. “I knew with them, if the players listened and followed their counsel, I knew that Gonzaga would become this team. It was one of the biggest reasons I committed there. The coaches are not only great at coaching, they are also great people to.”
Despite a very extensive daily schedule, Wade did find time to maintain his body and stay in shape while abroad.
“We have a specific time each day where we can work out,” explained the Zag commit. “I also had some workouts that some of my trainers had sent me before I left. We didn’t get to play basketball much, maybe every couple of weeks, but between that and the exercise I was able to stay in better shape than people might expect.”
Wade has hit the ground running since returning, already taking part in some intense training over the past three days.
“Right now, I have a trainer named Matt Byrd. He is helping me get my body back in shape and we are working a lot on my muscle memory and my quick twitch muscles. I am also going to Davis high school and getting up as many shots as I can. I’ve been doing that the past three days and I feel great. My body feels good. Of course, there is work to do after a two-year break. My shot is also feeling good and I am just working to get ready for Gonzaga.”
Although his father, Eric, had confirmed that Jesse was all Gonzaga when he returned, the BYU rumors still were floating. However, after talking with the future Zag, it has become clear we can put those to rest.
“My commitment to Gonzaga was because I loved the school,” Jesse emphasized. “I loved the school and I knew it was the best fit for me. When people understand that it was more about how much I loved Gonzaga, and nothing to do with how I feel about BYU, they understand my reasons. My sister, Olivia, is going to play soccer at BYU, but I’m 100% a Zag.”