Marquette Wire

Eagles take game to NBA

Sarah Sherman

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“The three years at Marquette have been unbelievable,” Wade said. “The fan support has been unbelievable. I’m saying this with courage and confidence — everything that I can think of — and I know I have the backing of all my teammates, my coaches, my family, everyone in this room … I’m going to take my game to the NBA and see what my future holds.”

The room filled with a warm applause that congratulated the player who always gave a thank-you wave to the student section following a game, the player who always gave the credit to his teammates before himself and the player who can truly be attributed with the increased success Marquette has shared over the past three years.

“I want to thank my teammates,” Wade said. “I want to thank God, my wife, my son, my coach, for being supportive in everything I’ve done. I want to thank the Marquette community for giving Dwyane Wade the opportunity to be here as a partial qualifier and for treating me the way I feel any human being should be treated.”

Wade averaged a team-leading 21.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.2 steals per game in leading the club to an overall record of 27-6, and the Golden Eagles’ first return to the NCAA Final Four since 1977.

As Marquette’s first Associated Press First Team All-American since 1978, Wade carried a heavy load on his shoulders as the last needed ingredient to bring Marquette back to the Al McGuire days of championships and wins. 1978 was also the last time Marquette boasted a first-round draft pick in Butch Lee, which coincided with the team’s first and only 1977 championship win in the Final Four.

In addition to being a full-time husband to high school sweetheart Siohvaughn, as well as full-time father to 15-month-old son Zaire, Wade boasted a cumulative 3.0 college GPA while helping to bring the Golden Eagles back to their glory days. Offensive highlights throughout the year were capped by the explosive performance Wade handed Kentucky along with a dominating triple-double in the Elite Eight. Supporting his reputation as the complete player in college basketball last year, Wade earned the Conference-USA Defensive Player of the Year honor.

One of five finalists for the Wooden Award, Wade was named the C-USA Player of the Year as he helped the Golden Eagles to a regular-season league mark of 14-2, good for first place. Other awards included the Hank Raymonds Sportsmanship Award, the Bart Miller Standard of Excellence Award (which combines the qualities of the ultimate team player — selflessness, hard work and loyalty — with excellence in the classroom) and the Deflection King Award. His favorite award, the 2002-03 MVP award chosen by a team vote, reflects his devotion to his teammates, and his commitment to keeping basketball a team sport.

A record number of foreign players in the 2003 NBA draft — 20 in all — were taken, leaving no room for the 6-foot-9, 254-pound Robert Jackson, the former Milwaukee Washington High School and Marquette standout. Thanks to a solid two-week period of summer-league basketball, Jackson earned an invitation to training camp with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Going undrafted could prove to be a positive thing for Jackson, who was able to choose a team to compete with in summer-league play. Jackson chose Cleveland, and played five games in the Orlando Pepsi Pro Summer League before traveling to Boston for six more in the Reebok Pro Summer League. Despite competing with 15 other players for court time, Jackson still managed to be productive.

“I just wanted to be prepared whenever they called my name and show them what I could do in the games that they did call my name,” Jackson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently.

“There were times I was playing limited minutes but I could understand because they were playing their veteran players a lot, trying to get them ready for this upcoming season and give them some more experience.

“I wasn’t really tripping because I’m a rookie.”

Jackson’s best play came in a game against the Milwaukee Bucks in Orlando where he had 13 points and 14 rebounds. He also produced a 12-point, five-rebound game against the Dallas Mavericks in Boston that featured a 6-for-6 shooting effort.

“I’m just trying to get my foot in the door,” Jackson said.

One thing Jackson got to experience during his time with the Cavaliers was court time with No. 1 draft pick LeBron James.

“He’s going to be a great player,” Jackson told the Journal Sentinel. “He’s down to earth. When I was there he treated me like he treated any other player. Me and him got along pretty well and it was a great experience. You would think that guys like that would think they’re better than other guys but he doesn’t act like that.”

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