But with Sebastian Telfair and Donta Smith's decision to enter the NBA Draft and injuries to several returning players this season, the 6-6 freshman forward has been pressed into action, especially in recent weeks. And he's making the most of his playing time.
Since scoring a career-high 14 points against Tennessee State earlier this month, Wade's confidence, and role on the team, have steadily increased. In a reserve role at Houston, Wade scored six points and helped the Cardinals battle back from a second half deficit. Days later, against TCU, Wade flashed his potential as a deadly outside shooter, connecting on 3-of-4 three pointers in a romp over the Horned Frogs. He played 15 minutes at Southern Miss earlier this week, contributing six points, 2 assists and a steal in a 107-62 victory.
"The older guys -Francisco and Larry- have helped me out and made me realize that I don't want to go overboard but just push myself in practice every day to try and become the best player I can," Wade said. "It's all about confidence. If you can get out on the court and get more confidence it gets a lot easier."
Wade, who often gives Garcia a breather off the bench, has also shown he's not afraid to step up in tough situations. With time running out against Houston and his team in need of a three-pointer to force overtime, the ball found it's way to Wade in the deep corner. And though his shot missed its mark, Wade proved he wasn't scared to launch a big shot at crunch time.
"I never thought twice about it," said Wade. "That's the kind of stuff you dream about when you're a kid. I just didn't make the shot."
Despite his youth and relative inexperience, Wade says he learned a valuable lesson in the upset loss to Houston, though he's not likely to have to apply it tomorrow against No. 18 Cincinnati.
"As we learned against Houston you have to be ready to play every night in this conference," Wade said. "Coach Pitino is such a good motivator that he teaches us how to play each day like it's our last day."