James Wade was officially named the new Head Coach of the Chicago Sky on the morning of Nov. 13. Wade comes into his first WNBA head coaching role with seven years of experience as an assistant around the league. Wade was most recently a part of the Minnesota Lynx coaching staff under Cheryl Reeve since 2017, and prior to that was an assistant to Dan Hughes’ San Antonio Stars from 2012-2016.
Coach Wade discusses his new role as he embarks on the start of his head coaching career.
“Me and my family are very excited. We can’t wait to get started, but this is a big deal for us. We’re happy about it.”
How did this hiring process unfold for you?
“It was an ongoing process – we had several conversations and I came up to visit. I’ll tell you what – I’ve been in the league for seven years and the almost seven years prior have felt like 40 days. The last 40 days have felt like seven years.
It was a job that I wanted. Cheryl Reeves helped me through the process and told me what to expect and I leaned on Dan Hughes a lot having worked with him for a long time. They kinda talked me through everything and gave me the confidence to know that I was ready to take it on. So I was confident going into every interview we had. Actually watching games of the roster and getting even more familiar with the team than a scout, looking at the film from not an opponents point of view, but if I had this team. Looking at the team like that, I was really confident that we could do good things here.”
What did working under two WNBA championship winning coaches in Dan Hughes and Cheryl Reeve teach you and what will you look to apply in your first-ever head coaching role?
“I saw two coaches that knew how to get the best out of their players. They taught me to not ever put limits on what players can do – even in times when as a player you might think ‘I’m too tired,’ or ‘this is a tough time for us because I’m not in a rhythm.’ Two coaches that hold players to a higher standard and demand it every day. There’s no off days in their minds – and that’s something that I’ve learned. When you’re a coach, you’re responsible for all 12 players and getting them to the right place and those are two of the best in the business.”
What excites you the most about this Chicago Sky roster?
“We have some free agency issues that we have to attack, but it’s a pretty good and complete roster. We have to keep evaluating and studying how they play together and how they best fit – but there’s good leadership on this team going forward. We have to build around that and play to the style of play that I think is where we need to be. That’s going to be our focus going forward. We’re going to try and get a defensive identity – I think that’s something that we’ve been lacking a little bit from just watching game film. That’s something that I want to attack as soon as possible, because I know that defense wins games. The strength of our guard play and the fact that we have post players that play make too is really good as well.”
Having worked with many top veterans around the league in the past – how does that help you going into this role?
“It gives me some credibility. It gives me a little bit of a fast track to earning their trust. The last two years have been amazing just because I’ve coached – in the last two years – arguably seven of the top 15 players of all time, with the starters in Minnesota, and Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner overseas. You gain things when you coach them every day, when you see how they work. Teaching them and seeing them react and progress gives me confidence as a coach. It gives me an identity of what I want and what I value on the court.”
You have a dynamic young talent in Diamond DeShields – what are you looking forward to in having her as a part of your roster?
“Everybody searches for the big next thing. The big dynamic wing that can do everything. For years you can count Maya Moore or Angel McCoughtry in that spot to name a few – and no disrespect to the wings that play in the league, but those kind of players separate themselves. I see a lot of that in Diamond. I think she’s the next one. Experience is going to be a big factor in her development and what we do with her in practice is going to be a major factor as well. I think she can be the next wing that takes the league by storm and dominates at her position.
Talking to her – I know she’s motivated. I’ve seen her play since she was 16 years old. She’s a great player and has been a great player. The sky’s the limit for her and we’re going to help her realize that.”
What are you looking forward to in the 2019 draft with the No. 4 pick?
“We’re going to look for the best player available. A player that can help push us to another level. There’s some things we need to address in defense and rebounding, but we’re going to try to get the best player available and go from there. I’ve watched six or seven players that I really really like, but putting a team together is like putting together a puzzle so we have to see what will compliment our team and push us further.”