Ryan Wade had jitters while trying to navigate his way to the top of the Eiffel Tower earlier this week.
Getting past those jitters proved to be well worth it for the Laingsburg graduate and Western Michigan redshirt freshman guard — especially after he received the surprise of a lifetime.
Wade’s trip to the top of the famous Paris landmark ended with coach Steve Hawkins and the Western men’s basketball program awarding him a full-ride scholarship for this season. The moment, which came on the final day of Western’s trip to Europe, was caught on a video that has gone viral.
“I had no idea it was coming,” Wade said via phone. “Obviously we went up to the top and coach gave me a letter and I started reading. I couldn’t even finish the letter. I was real emotional. It was just unbelievable. I can’t even describe how I was feeling.
“It was definitely one of my goals. It was a dream come true to play Division I basketball. It was always one of my goals. I just really worked my butt off and it paid off.”
Wade committed to walk-on at Western before his final season at Laingsburg. The 5-foot-10 guard chose the Broncos despite other opportunities at NAIA, Division II and Division III schools. Wade redshirted last season, but impressed the Bronco coaching staff with his work ethic and attitude.
And that, to Hawkins, made Wade a logical choice to receive a scholarship this school year when one became available with Kellen McCormick leaving the program this summer.
Hawkins said Wade exemplifies the traits he learned to value while working under legendary coach John Wooden in that he’s a good student, hard worker on the court, good teammate and coachable.
“He redshirted for us last year and it never affected his tenacity,” Hawkins said. “He does not allow himself to have a bad day whether that be on the court or off the court, he just does not have a bad day ever. Because of that, it was a pretty easy decision when you have a scholarship open to reward the kid and his family.”
Wade said getting the scholarship made for the best day of his life so far. But Wade knows there is plenty more work to do and he’s not content with now being on scholarship.
“This is just another milestone for me,” Wade said. “Obviously, I’m not satisfied. I’m going to go back to work just like nothing happened. It’s just another milestone for me, and I’m going to keep on working and earn more playing time and go from there.”
Hawkins is excited about Wade’s potential to help his program and believes he is a good fit for the Broncos.
“Here at Western we’ve kind of made a living on guys that kind of play with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder and Ryan is one of those kids,” Hawkins said. “(Haslett grad) Brandon (Allen) is too. When we were looking at Ryan, we weren’t recruiting him at all. I was watching another kid on his AAU team, but my eyes kept coming back to Ryan. I don’t know how many times I watched him play, but it was a lot. He just kept getting things done on his AAU team.
“If this kid was 6-2, 6-3 we would have been in a heck of a dog fight and in a recruiting battle because he’s not just a typical walk-on that’s a low maintenance kid, good student and works hard. He can play. I’m excited about his ability as a player and not just in this situation.”