When sophomore guard Rico Wade was a kid, his father decided he had spent enough time in his room and wanted him to experience the outside world.
“My father forced me into basketball around fifth grade because he didn’t like me playing computer games all day,” Wade said. “He wanted me to do real life activities and I remember not wanting to at all but I just happened to fall in love with it.”
Wade’s basketball career started in elementary school but the start was not in Grand Rapids or even Michigan for that matter. Wade was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He went to Landmark Christian High School, in Fairburn, Georgia which is 20 minutes away from Atlanta. Wade believes his competition in Georgia molded him into the player he is today and prepared him for the competition between community colleges in Michigan.
“The competition in Georgia was crazy because it seemed like every game was close and extremely competitive,” Wade said. “Similar to some high school games in Michigan, they would occasionally be low scoring because there was no shot clock.”
After finishing up his high school career in Georgia, Wade decided to make the move to Grand Rapids to play for the Grand Rapids Community College men’s basketball team. This move restricted how much free time he had but it spotlighted a major passion Wade has.
“My favorite game growing up was World of Warcraft and I’ve been playing it since elementary school,” Wade said. “I made a lot of friends, built the majority of my social skills, and learned to genuinely work hard for something I wanted for the first time playing that game when I was a kid. I was obsessed with the game but I shifted my obsession from that to basketball around middle school.”
Wade’s love for video games directed him in a path where he does not have to quit being around video games and technology. He is in the Computer Information Systems pathway out of GRCC which allows him to continue what he loves to do.
“Outside of basketball, I am really into the field of technology,” Wade said. “I was really big into PC games growing up which manifested itself into my degree path considering I’m working towards a degree in computer programming here at GRCC. I still love video games today, I just don’t get much time to play them.”
Wade no longer has the time to consistently play video games because he has been busy with basketball and academics. After arriving in 2021, Wade made an immediate impact for the Raiders as he averaged 6.6 PPG and 1.7 RPG in 20 minutes per game.
GRCC men’s basketball head coach Joe Fox was impressed with the leadership skills Wade brought to the team in year one.
“Rico has been a wonderful addition to the team the past two years,” Fox said. “He always brings positive energy and is a great teammate. He gets along well with the other guys and has done a great job stepping into a leadership role for his younger teammates.”
After going 10-19 in 2021, Wade dedicated most of the summer to train for his next season at GRCC. He specifically worked on his shot so he could become more of a threat for the Raiders while still being a vocal leader. Wade also worked on his defense to be one of the primary defenders for the Raiders in 2022.
“Rico is a fantastic shooter, and a very good on ball defender,” Fox said. “He does a lot of great things for us on both ends.”
In 2022, Wade has improved all his numbers while starting 12 out of the first 17 games of the season. He averages about 7 PPG, while shooting 40% from the field and 34% from three. He currently leads the conference in total games played with 18 and is 46th in total games played in the National Junior College Athletic Association. His experience has lifted the Raiders to a competitive team that has a chance to win the conference. The Raiders sit at 13-4 on the season which is a major improvement from last year. Wade is satisfied with how he has done so far but believes there is more to accomplish as a team.
“Personally, for the rest of the season, my goal is to be consistent, put forth as much effort as I can into this, and enjoy it because we’ll never get these moments back,” Wade said. “As a team I just want us to come together as a family, win, lose or draw. I hope we walk out of this season with genuine love for each other for years to come.”
Sophomore Brockton Kohler credits Wade for stepping up in his leadership role while creating relationships with every player.
“He really unites the team and is one of the main leaders for us,” Kohler said. “His defensive energy is contagious and is an inspiration for everyone on the team.”
Wade is very thankful for his time in Grand Rapids and is happy to experience the difference between Michigan and Georgia.
“Getting the chance to hoop at GRCC means a lot to me,” Wade said. “I’m happy that I am able to travel across the country and have an experience such as this one.”