Arkansas’ Wade enjoying breakout season

Even now, Mardracus Wade refuses to compare himself to some of

the best shooters in the country.

The Arkansas guard, who leads the Southeastern Conference in

3-point shooting, might just want to reassess that stance.

Wade connected on all five of his 3-point attempts in a loss at

Georgia on Wednesday, and has now hit 50 percent (51 of 102) of his

shots from behind the arc this season. While he falls just below

the minimum 2.5 3-pointers made per game to qualify for NCAA

statistics, Wade’s percentage would rank second nationally.

Arkansas (16-8, 4-5 SEC) has yet to lose in Bud Walton Arena

this season, a streak it will look to continue when it hosts South

Carolina (9-14, 1-8) on Saturday.

Part of that home success can be attributed to the breakout

season for Wade, who averaged only four points per game and hit

barely 20 percent of his 3-point attempts last season as a

freshman. The performance couldn’t have come at a better time for

the Razorbacks, who entered the season with serious outside

shooting concerns following Rotnei Clarke’s transfer to Butler.

Clarke was renowned for his 3-point shooting ability in his

three seasons at Arkansas, hitting 274 shots from behind the arc

during that time – second in school history.

Prior to this season, Wade was a relatively anonymous 6-foot-2

guard who was known more for his defense.

Times have certainly changed.

Wade is averaging 11.1 points per game this season, second on

the team. He leads the Razorbacks with 1.6 steals per game, but

it’s his shooting that has provided some much-needed relief from

the outside.

”Mardracus has worked to become someone people have to pay

attention to on our basketball team,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson

said. ”Percentage-wise, he is one of the better 3-point shooters

in our league. He has done a good job.”

Wade was a strong shooter in high school, first in Memphis for

three seasons and then during his senior year at Hargrave (Va.)

Military Academy. He averaged 20.1 points, five assists and five

steals per game that last season at Hargrave, but lost his

confidence once arriving at Arkansas under then-coach John

Pelphrey.

He scored in double figures only once and averaged 17.2 minutes

per game – shooting 38 percent from the field overall and 20.5

percent on 44 3-point attempts.

”I came in as a freshman, and I thought I was going to be able

to do a little more,” Wade said. ”My confidence was down a little

bit once (Pelphrey) told me this is what I’d be doing and they

didn’t want me doing this or that. It kind of took away from my

game a little bit.”

Wade’s confidence returned after Anderson was hired in March

following Pelphrey’s firing, both because of the new system and an

offseason dedicated of hard work and shooting.

That confidence has translated this season, with Wade failing to

score in double figures only seven times. His current 3-point

percentage is close to the school’s single-season record of 50.4

percent (65 of 129), set by Lee Mayberry in 1990.

Despite his success, Wade still isn’t quite ready to place his

shooting ability on the level as one of the best. That includes

Clarke.

”I’m not going to lie to you, Rotnei is one of the best

shooters I’ve seen in my life,” Wade said. ”It was unbelievable.

I used to look at him all the time, his form.

”I don’t know if I’m that type of guy on this team yet,” Wade

added, ”but I do think I’m that guy that we kind of need and can

knock down shots.”