Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood Biography
Hoop Blessings owner and founder Sa’de Wiley-Gatewood, aka the ‘Smooth Operator’, was born and raised in San Diego, California. Coach Sa’de began playing basketball at the age of eight; honing her skills at the Jackie Robinson YMCA in Southeast San Diego. She moved to Los Angeles when she was ten years old. Sa’de’s stepfather Jerry Gatewood—who also served as her coach and trainer—did not allow her to play against girls until she was in sixth grade. She attributes this to helping increase her basketball IQ, strength, quickness, toughness and developing the athleticism and skills that became signatures of her incredible play.
While in middle school, Sa’de played for both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams at Monroe Middle School in Inglewood, CA, as well as the Darby Park Recreation Center in Inglewood, CA. At the same time, she competed in high school practices and tournaments for Hawthorne High School and Dominguez High School as her step dad her coach. Her teammates referred to her as Sesame Street in reference to how young she was. Sa’de’s high school career rewarded the effort she put into maximizing her unprecedented potential, and fulfilled the promise others saw in her game.
Sade’s career at Lynwood High School included too many accolades and awards to list, but she won multiple regional, state and national championships, she was an All-American, California State Player of the Year and, in 2004, named National Player of The Year. As an eighth grader, Sa’de was invited to attend Nike’s prestigious All-American Camp; an annual showcase of the nation’s best basketball talent. She became the first middle-schooler—male or female—ever invited to attend!
Sa’de performed well at the All-American Showcase, playing against America’s elite talent (all of whom were significantly older) and in front of college coaches from across the country. Later that same year, Sa’de attended summer Elite Camp at the University of Tennessee. At the end of the camp, ten standout athletes were selected to compete against the Lady Volunteers. Sa’de was selected, and performed so well legendary coach Pat Summitt offered her a scholarship to play for her perennial powerhouse program. The verbal made Sa’de the first rising freshman recruit in history to commit to a Division-I school.
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Coach Sa’de high school career rewarded the effort she put into maximizing her unprecedented potential, and fulfilled the promise others saw in her game. Sa’de’s career at Lynwood High School included too many accolades and awards to list, but she won multiple regional, state and national championships, she was an All-American, California State Player of the Year and, in 2004, named National Player of The Year.
True to her word, Sa’de followed her commitment to Knoxville, TN, headlining an historic recruiting class—dubbed the ‘Super Six’ and widely-regarded as the all-time best recruiting haul in women’s basketball—and played for the Lady Vols throughout the 2005 season. Despite being injured for much of the season, Sa’de had several highlights in her freshman campaign; including hitting the game-winning basket on the road against arch-rival UConn and leading the Lady Vols to the Women’s Final Four in Indianapolis. Despite her success playing at Tennessee and her lifetime respect for coach Summitt, the Lady Vols’ system didn’t allow S’ade to play the free-flowing style that best utilized her skills, so she sought a transfer.
In 2006, Coach Sa’de arrived at the University of Maryland. That season, she helped prepare the Terrapins as a practice player (due to transfer rules) to their first (and only) National Championship at the Women’s Final Four in Boston. Sa’de was a key contributor throughout her career at Maryland, but chronic tendinitis prevented her from being able to compete at the highest level or log the kind of minutes she hoped for. While she was pursued by several WNBA franchises as a free agent, Sa’de had to decline their offers to play professionally because her knees were wearing down.
Coach Sa’de’s playing career was as illustrious and rewarding as an elite athlete can hope for, but she truly feels that the work she is doing now—sharing her experiences, expertise and passion for basketball AND education with the next generation of student-athletes—is the most rewarding and important work of her life. She is truly grateful for your support of Hoop Blessings, and hopes that what you learn and the on-and-off-court skills you acquire in the program become fundamentals of your future and true blessings in your life.
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