By Richard Burnett
Fed by a laser pass, point guard Tony Wade Jr. catches the basketball in stride, soars to the hoop and jams it home. Such scenes fill Wade’s highlight reel, which he posted earlier this year on recruiting sites for college coaches, drawing responses from Texas to Oregon.
But it was the call from Beacon College that won over the 5-foot-11 speedster, who averaged 14 points per game out of Park Vista High School in Lake Worth, Florida.
“I had some other offers from schools that just weren’t home to me,” he said. “But when I saw Beacon was only three hours away from my home, I had a real good feeling about it. Now I
love the town, the campus, the teachers and being part of this team. It was a good decision for me.”
A stellar recruiting class
Wade joins the stellar athletes of Beacon’s first-ever recruiting class for its growing intercollegiate sports program. In late October, Beacon will begin its third season of intercollegiate competition – its first in the U.S. College Athletic Association – in men’s and women’s hoops and track and field.
“These players have experience on the court; they have skills and knowledge of the game,” said Sam Vincent, the former Orlando Magic star who became Beacon’s head men’s basketball coach last year. “That gives us a chance to start the year and be competitive right away.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” he added. “President [George] Hagerty has been amazingly patient and supportive. He has stood by the vision, believing in these players, how sports can help build interest in Beacon, and how Beacon can help them in the classroom.”
New players include Logan Schayes, 6-foot-8 guard-forward, son of former Magic center Danny Schayes; Jordique Vincent, 6-foot-3 guard transfer from Lourdes University in Ohio and son of the head coach; and Lucas Kolaxis, 6-foot-3 guard-forward and all-time top scorer at Lakeside Christian School in Clearwater, Florida.
Schayes: To make an impact.
For Logan Schayes, the path here has been marked by adversity. From Florida to Colorado, he’s starred at some high-profile private schools and was scouted by the NBA at an early age, only to be sidelined often by injury.
In early 2022, his first year at the college level started out promising but was derailed after he took a brutal hit during a rebound and suffered a season-ending concussion. A series of health problems followed, requiring treatment and a long recovery.
Eventually, his dad got a call from friend and ex-Magic teammate Vincent, who pitched Beacon as a viable option for Logan. He visited the campus, connected with Vincent’s son Jordique, and got a vision for playing here.
“Coach Sam was the catalyst for this,” he said. “Talking with him and Jordique, I could see a real opportunity to help take this new team to the next level. I’ve grown a lot since I was younger, and I have a lot of experience under my belt now. Ideally, I just want to come in and make an impact here.”
Vincent: Embracing hoops and education
Jordique Vincent has traveled the world in his young life, going and playing wherever his dad has helped other countries develop pro basketball.
But his biggest move may be coming to Beacon — a decision based on the chance to up his game through his dad’s coaching and get a top-notch education. He transferred from Lourdes University, a winning program in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
Like other new recruits, Vincent embraces Beacon’s vision for sports and its focus on students with learning differences, such as ADHD, dyslexia, and autism: “You can tell the professors are so experienced at helping students with learning differences,” he said. “And they are committed to giving students all the support they need to succeed.”
Kolaxis: Getting a great opportunity
Multiple college coaches were courting sharpshooter Lucas Kolaxis in his senior year of high school, lured by his resume as an all-conference star and the school’s all-time scoring leader. However, it was a visit from Beacon’s assistant basketball coaches Brandon Raines and Randy Trowbridge that made the difference.
“It really made me feel like Beacon valued me and wanted me,” Kolaxis said. “And that helped me see coming to Beacon would be the best steppingstone for what I want to do in life. Playing for Coach Sam and his staff is a great opportunity, given my interest in playing basketball at the next level.”
Sky’s the limit
For Jaylen Williams, the first female recruit to sign with Beacon, the sky appears to be the limit. The record-holding track and field athlete starred at her West Chester, Pennsylvania high school, including long jump, high jump, pole vault, 4×100 relay, and the 100 meters run. She joins the Beacon women’s track and field team and the women’s hoops team, coached respectively by assistant athletic directors Tony Wrice and Brandon Raines.
Three key factors influenced her decision for Beacon: “First of all, I love Florida because I’m an outdoors person and I love the weather here,” she said. “Another thing was my coach in Pennsylvania has a close friendship with Coach Wrice at Beacon, and that made a big difference. The third thing was Beacon’s great work with students who have learning difficulties, which means a lot to me.”
“She’s a very talented athlete who is definitely going to provide a lift for our team,” said Raines, head coach of women’s basketball. “This season is going to be a lot of fun, and very different for Beacon. On the men’s team, we signed some new kids who play at a much higher level. That’s the kind of foundation I want to set for the women’s team.”