They’re the most recognizable players the first NCAA Basketball Academy West Regional at Grand Canyon University, mainly because of their last names.
It was probably no coincidence that guards Zaire Wade and Shaqir O’Neal — sons of former NBA superstars Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal — were made roommates for the first session of the camp, even though they’re on different teams.
They’ve already discussed creating their own basketball paths.
“That’s my guy, Shaqir,” Wade said. “Another NBA son. We want to make a name for ourselves.”
On Tuesday, during the first day of the NCAA-regulated evaluation week for invited high school basketball players, Wade, playing for the 1981 Indiana Hoosiers (the teams are named after NCAA champions), showed off a mid-range jumper, a strong left hand and athleticism.
“I don’t ever listen to that,” Wade said about being like his dad on the court. “I never try to live up what they say. I just want to play my game. I’m looking to make my own name.”
Wade, a 6-foot-2, 170-pound point guard, is making a fresh start this summer.
His family recently moved from Florida to Chatsworth, Calif., where he will play his senior season for national powerhouse Sierra Canyon. There, he will team up with an incoming freshman who might have a harder last name to live up to.
Bronny James is the son of NBA star LeBron James, who teamed up with Dwyane in Miami for an NBA championship with the Heat.
When Bronny and Zaire team up, no doubt the fathers will be brought up in most interviews.
Zaire is ready.
“We’re all just excited to get together,” he said.
With his dad now retired from the NBA, Zaire said his dad will be more involved with him. He said he expects to see him at all of his high school games this season. With his move to Southern California, Zaire has picked up advice from LeBron James to just be himself.
Sierra Canyon has become a magnet for high-profile players. Former Tempe Corona del Sol forward Marvin Bagley III was the California Player of the Year in his only season playing for Sierra Canyon, before reclassifying and signing with Duke.
Arizona State point guard Remy Martin came out of Sierra Canyon.
“It’s been a powerhouse program and we’re just trying to keep it going,” Wade said.
Wade has become a prospect but it’s his name that has brought curiosity to fans who want to see if he possesses the same athletic skill as his dad. It’s been that way since he picked up a basketball.
He’s carved his own path with offers from Nebraska, Rhode Island, DePaul, Toledo.
“When I was growing up, I felt like there was a lot of pressure, people telling me I had to be as good as he was,” Zaire said. “As I got older, I just started to play my game. I knew they were there. It really made me perform better. Everybody was expecting me to do something, so I guess I’ve got to do it.
“I don’t call it pressure. I call it life. I was born into the life.”
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