Wade gets ‘big’ commit

Published 3:03 pm Thursday, April 4, 2024

Will Wade’s McNeese State makeover might just add some fuel to the fire of local rivalry.

And this was no shot across the bow either, as the Cowboys begin their roster restocking with a big commitment.

Joe Charles, a 6-foot-9, 235-pound power forward, announced Thursday that he was transferring from Louisiana-Lafayette to McNeese. Charles will bring a needed presence to the paint for the Cowboys, who finished last season 30-4 but lost to Gonzaga in the first round of the NCAA Midwest Regional.

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After that game Wade, the McNeese head coach, said he was going “big game hunting” and that the Cowboys would look “much different” next season.

Charles a product of Carencro High, is the first piece to the next McNeese puzzle.

Charles averaged 11.3 points and 9.6 rebounds a game last season for the Cajuns, starting all 33 games. He recorded 11 double-doubles while leading ULL with 318 rebounds and was named the team’s MVP this week.

What makes him more attractive to Wade is his inner defense. Charles led the Cajuns with 60 steals and 37 blocks while earning Third-Team All-Sun Belt Conference honors.

During his three seasons in Lafayette, Charles appeared in 97 games, starting 37. He played three times against the Cowboys, finishing with 10 points and eight boards last year.

Charles will join a front line that will include Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year Christian Shumate and possibly C.J. Felder, who is looking into getting one more year of eligibility from the NCAA. 

Shumate was also a double-double machine last season with 13 of them giving him 35 for his career, a program record. That included a 19-point, 11-rebound performance against Gonzaga.

He finished the year averaging 12.1 points and 9.5 rebounds a game.

Shumate told the American Press that he was planning on returning to McNeese after the season. So did both Javohn Garcia and DJ Richards, two key members of the Cowboys’ historic turnaround that saw them improve 19 wins from the year before, tying an NCAA record.

Wade made it clear Wednesday night on the weekly McNeese Pokecast that he was coming back as well.

“I’ve told everyone a million times that I am coming back to McNeese,” Wade said. “You’ll just don’t believe me for some reason. I don’t know why. I am coming back to McNeese next season.”

Wade has said as of now none of his assistants have left the program as he hopes to run it back with the Cowboys with his full staff.

In other basketball news, Wade also announced the Cowboys have agreed to play in a Multi-Team Event in the Virgin Islands over Thanksgiving week this season. McNeese will play three games in three days during the trip.

Others expected at the event are Kansas State, Vanderbilt, Liberty, Illinois State, and North Texas according to Wade who called it “a real big step for our program.”

With the addition of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, McNeese is expected to play 20 Southland regular season games. With three at the MTE and another against ULL in Lafayette, the Cowboys have seven games left to fill on the roster. Wade is hoping to get five of those games at least at home with a possible neutral site contest against a Power 5 foe as well.

Wade has said he hopes to add four or five players to replace his losses to the roster.