Wade continues to impact Marquette men’s basketball during final NBA season

Sacar Anim grew up as quite the Dwyane Wade fan. Despite this, he forgot the basketball star was a Marquette alumnus. Instead he had to choose No. 2.

Anim unknowingly asked for No. 3 — Wade’s former number — when he arrived on campus in 2015.

Wade, the former men’s basketball star, is remembered as one of Marquette’s greatest athletes and the programs highest drafted player, after being picked fifth overall by the Miami Heat in the 2003 NBA Draft.

“He’s a Hall of Famer,” Anim said. “That’s why I wear No. 2 because I want to be like D-Wade (and) that’s the closest thing to him.”

Anim isn’t the only Golden Eagle who admires Wade. Junior forward Sam Hauser has also felt Wade’s impact.

“He means a lot to our program,” Sam Hauser said. “We always look up to him as kind of an idol and someone that we want to grow up and be like.”

With Wade being honored Sunday on Dwyane Wade Day at Fiserv Forum, it was apparent that Wade’s feelings toward Marquette are mutual.

“To be able to see young guys at the same university you went to, knowing they walked some of the same steps that you walked, just to see their career and their journey — it has been pretty cool so far,” Wade said. “Watching the team, seeing how they are together, seeing how they play for each other, it’s special.”

Wade said he has been especially impressed with junior guard Markus Howard, who became the first Division I men’s basketball player in 20 seasons to have multiple 50-plus point performances.

“There’s not many guys … that can put the ball in the basket that way. He has something special that many don’t have,” Wade said. “You hope that he gets that opportunity at the next level to be able to continue playing the game that he loves. … He’s definitely been a great ambassador for Marquette University and makes us old guys proud.”

In three years on Marquette’s campus, Wade averaged 19.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game and shot 49 percent. Wade led Marquette to a 2003 Final Four postseason finish, its first appearance since the 1977 national championship.

During Sunday’s game against Providence — the same team Marquette played when the university retired Wade’s jersey in 2007 — the university recognized Wade’s career with a halftime ceremony and several video tributes. The university flew Wade’s children out to present him with his letterman’s jacket.

Current NBA guard Wesley Matthews and former NBA forward Steve Novak were in attendance to celebrate Wade’s NBA career coming to a close after this season. Prerecorded messages from fellow former Golden Eagles Jae Crowder, Travis Diener, Jimmy Butler, Novak and Wade’s head coach Tom Crean played during timeouts.

“It’s a huge day for us any time those guys or any former players can come back and support us,” Anim said.

Though Marquette head coach Wojciechowski did not coach Wade at Marquette, he had the opportunity to work with him on Team USA in the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics.

Despite coming off an injury in 2008, Wade was a huge part of USA’s first place finish in the 2008 Olympics.

“He played with a real edge and purpose,” Wojciechowski said. “He was probably the most valuable player on that 2008 gold medal team.”

When the two worked together, Wade said they developed a great relationship based on respect. Wade had plenty of good things to say about Wojciechowski.

“(The players) may not see it today, but they (will) sit up here as a 37-year (old) athlete like I am; they’ll see how important a college basketball coach is,” Wade said. “Not only to their growth on the court, but their growth off the court.”

Sixteen seasons after playing his last game as a Golden Eagle, Wade has amassed numerous awards throughout his NBA career, including three NBA championships, 2006 NBA Finals MVP, 2010 NBA All-Star Game MVP, 12-time All-Star selection and eight-time All-NBA selection. He is the Miami Heat’s all-time leading scorer and all-time assists leader.

“You have a basketball and you have a dream,” Wade said. “I blinked my eye and I’m 37 years old and I’m about to retire from the game and I’m like ‘Wait a minute, I’ve made a big impact on this game.’ … (The journey) hasn’t been easy, it hasn’t been hard, it’s been perfect.”