Father and son customarily play one-on-one. Wayne Sims needs the ball first — his conditioning isn’t as pristine as when he teamed with Stanley Roberts on Dale Brown’s late ’80s LSU basketball teams.
The two will play to five. Sims institutes a “make it, take it” rule midway through the game, spelling certain doom for his son, Wayde, who signed with LSU at University High on Wednesday afternoon.
“When he’s making it,” Wayde said, “he doesn’t miss.”
[Editor's note: Wayde Sims was gunned down in Baton Rouge early Friday, Sept. 28, 2018.]
New rules instituted, Wayde’s typically left guarding his dad, following his every step across the court and around the perimeter to avoid the embarrassment of a five-shot shutout.
Rest assured, though, Wayde doesn’t mind following his father’s path. In signing with LSU on Wednesday, he made that clear, becoming the second Sims to don the purple and gold and play for Johnny Jones.
“It’s every father’s dream. For me playing at LSU and him following in my footsteps, it’s a dream come true,” Wayne said. “He’s a lot better than I am, at this stage. I had some strengths, some things I did a little bit better than what he does now; but overall, I think he’s a little bit more advanced than I was.”
Jones, a cousin to the Sims family, was Brown’s assistant when Wayne played. Now the head coach, Jones started recruiting his “little cousin” as soon as he got the job, offering Wayde when he was a freshman.
“He’s cousin Johnny off the court, but he’s coach Jones on the court,” Wayde said. “It’ll be nice to play for him, but it’s all business on the court. When we’re off the court, he doesn’t talk about too much basketball. Just treats me like I’m his little cousin, like family.”
Jones could not comment on the signing at Wednesday’s meeting with reporters because the school had not yet received Wayde’s paperwork.
Playing mainly on the inside at U-High, Wayde is projected to move outside, possibly at the 3-guard in college, meaning he’ll have to refine his ballhandling and perimeter defense.
U-High coach Joe Spencer said he’s seen enough from Wayde to know the transition will go seamlessly.
“He showed a couple of years ago that he can guard out on the perimeter. And to me, that’s always the biggest thing: Can you guard the position they project you at in college,” Spencer said. “He can do that, I believe. He’s a good shooter now, and he’s a pretty good ballhandler, and he’s continued to progress over the year in both those aspects. I think he’ll be able to play inside for them, too, so I think he’ll still be kind of a multidimensional player, even at LSU.”
Wayde said he’s seen the most improvement in his game on defense, now confident he can slide out to the perimeter and guard the outside shot just as comfortably as manning the inside.
Wayde’s arrival at LSU could reunite him with former U-High teammate Skylar Mays, who now plays at Las Vegas’ Findlay Prep but is expected to sign with LSU on Friday. The two childhood friends FaceTimed before Wayde’s signing Wednsday and promised to do the same before Mays’ signing Friday.
Until then, Wayde’s focus is on his senior season with a goal of winning a third straight state title. As usual, Wayne won’t be far behind.
“It’s our job as parents to push our kids to be excellent. And when he decided he wanted to play basketball, I just made sure he did everything he could to better himself as he went along,” Wayne said. “He’s been putting in the work on the floor and in the classroom. This is what you get when you work hard and everything pays off for you.”