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July 28, 2012The roar steadily builds for Wade Baldwin IV. Even though his college basketball career remains two years into the future, the New Jersey-native will climb into double digit scholarship offer territory very soon.
"I got offered from Harvard, Richmond, Temple, and Rice," said Baldwin IV. "And interest from Cincinnati. The rest has been the same since before April."
Baldwin IV competes all summer with Sports U, the Jersey-based AAU outfit led by former NBA great Daryl Dawkins.
The program trains in their very own Fairfield, New Jersey sports complex and generally features a squad of South Jersey/Philly players.
Add to this tantalizing brew of talent Baldwin and St. Anthony's point guard Cheddi Mosely and you are talking Top 10 AAU program.
Broadening his world
Wade is a special young man capable of succeeding in life without basketball. Unlike many of his peers this fourth generation Wade challenges himself in multiple arenas of competition.
As June concluded Baldwin graduated from the prestigious FBI National Academy Youth Leadership Program (YLP). Baldwin was the only African-American student selected to participate in the week-long leadership training program.
"It was actually great," said Baldwin IV. "I got fify hours of classroom time working on leadership. I did some Criminal Justice stuff, some law stuff.
Clearly the program introduced some valuable principles to the exceptional youngsters. Did Wade take anything away though?
"I tried to apply the things when I got back to school," said Baldwin IV. "When I had to come back, from camp that public speaking training helped me out there. A lot of the leadership stuff helped me out on the basketball court."
Of the sixty well-rounded high school students Baldwin finished the 3.0 mile Marine Corps obstacle course first.
"We had to go through the woods," said Baldwin IV. "You had to bear crawl 50 yards and something like that."
Baldwin's interest was initiated by his mother. She embarked him on this quest.
"My mom works for the FBI," said Baldwin IV. "She saw this program online and wanted me to go through the process. I had to write an essay, go to local chief of police, read a book, and do an extended Q & A on the book. It was pretty strenuous to get into it. But it was worth it."
What an amazing accomplishment for a guy generally known to peers as just a basketball player. There is much more going on with this talented youth.
Team of greatness
Sports U. will be a monster program for the next two years. With Class of 2015 superstar Karl Towns and Class of 2014 star Quadri Moore they can certainly brag about their post dominance.
Moore checks in at a powerful 230 pounds and Towns anchors the low block with nearly 225 pounds. Moore serves as the more traditional low post player, but Towns can step out to 20' with regularity.
You might recall the Bearcats offered Moore this winter. They could offer Towns, but frankly every coach in the nation would leap off a building to sign Karl.
"Playing with Karl, I have been playing with him since I was ten years old," remembers Baldwin IV. "We just have great chemistry together. I have seen a lot of him in the post. Now he is extending his game to the three-point shooter. Running the ppick n' roll with both is very successful because they can both shoot."
Moore is a newer friend to Baldwin IV, but both bigs have value as teammates and friends.
"Karl is a great guy to be around," said Baldwin IV. "Quadri is a funny guy to be around off the court."
Playing through pain
For Wade the summer included some turbulent times, largely generated by a nagging injury.
"I think my greatest accomplishment this summer was playing through an injury," said Baldwin IV. "I had a lot of tendonitis in my left knee. I played a different style than I usually do. Not just an athletic guard, but also a passing/rebounding point guard also.
Cincinnati Assistant Coach Darren Savino watched Baldwin's maturation as a player. And he approved of the wisdom inherent in his game.
"I took a lot of pride in playing through that injury," said Baldwin IV. "The main part was that I couldn't really jump. In April, my main strength was jumping and getting to the rim. I had to bring the ball up and do more passing and less scoring."
He believes that some light physical therapy in August should alleviate the problem. It has never bothered him before this month.
Since mid-July the Bearcats have been intrigued with Wade Baldwin IV.
"I think it was Milwaulkee," said Baldwin IV. "The first time Darren Savino was contacting my coach. I also talked to him on the phone. I called him and text messaged him. They are starting to get a real friendship.
No talk of visits arose, but Coach Savino generally offered encouraging words about Baldwin's injury woes.
"They just were gaving me confidence," said Baldwin IV. "They never talked about coming up to the school and visitng yet. They just said, 'Keep pushing through. You are doing a good job. We really like your game.'"
In the last month he has picked up offers from the aforementioned quartet of Rice, Harvard, Temple, and Richmond. Cincinnati could be next. When Coach Savino sees something in a young guard he usually moves fast.
With all the talents blossoming in Wade Baldwin IV expect many more doors to open in his near future.