Updated: May 18, 2021
Dominoes are falling!!!
Coach Cal and his newly created coaching staff land ANOTHER guard in the last 7 days, as Sahvir Wheeler has officially committed to the University of Kentucky. Wheeler is the sophomore transfer point guard from Georgia, poised to do the primary ball-handling for the ‘21-’22 Cats in the upcoming season. The addition of Wheeler is a much more significant grab for Calipari than most BBN fans might realized, and here’s why:
Wheeler brings legit experience to the PG role. When’s the last time Coach Cal has truly had an experienced PG? Sure, Ashton Hagans played into his sophomore year, and by Kentucky standards that might be experienced (slight sarcasm), but for college basketball, well not exactly. Wheeler comes in as a junior, having spent 2 years competing every single day, and in every single game, against some of the best players and programs in the nation. He played against grown men last year as opposed to 16-year olds. He’s played in every SEC arena, he’s played in front of hostile collegiate fan bases, and he’s proven to have success.
Here’s a really important note: Wheeler has experience playing in COVID-impacted basketball - this probably can’t be overstated. Look at how it impacted players like Devin Askew, BJ Boston, and others. If college basketball still isn’t back to normal for this upcoming season, well Wheeler has already been there, already done that
2. Frees up TyTy Washington: Cal can now use TyTy however he wants, doesn't NEED him to be the point guard. Washington can be used like Tyler Herro, like Kevin Knox, and like Immanuel Quickley. Wheeler gives Calipari the freedom to be creative with TyTy, to be versatile with Kellyn Grady, and to implement whichever offensive scheme he desires. Now you have a PG that can create for shooters. You have a PG that can get to the paint, that can distribute to bigs, that can collapse defenders and help create for players like Washington and Grady. Wheeler initiates the offense, which means more room and time for players like Washington, Grady, Frederick, and others to work for shots, to utilize screens and spacing.
3. ASSISTS! One of the major, unbelievably pathetic issues with last year’s squad was a total lack of assists. Askew couldn’t create, Mintz struggled to create for others consistently, and don’t even get me started on BJ Boston. But now BBN has Wheeler, an assist-creating machine. And I’m not just talking about 3-5 assists per game, no no no. We’ll see games where Wheeler has 10, 11, 12 assists. He knows has to create, he knows how to read the game, he knows how to survey the defense. Surround him with players like Washington, Frederick, Grady, Daimion Collins, Oscar Tschwiebe, etc. - Wheeler is going to have some fun!
If you take his current stats through 2 seasons at Georgia: Wheeler would be Top 15 all-time in career assists at Kentucky. For last season, that would be a top-5 single-season assist total at Kentucky.
Now, he’s proven to be a little bit prone to turnovers. He tries to force the issue, he’ll drive into traffic, sometimes he tries to make the highlight-reel pass instead of the easy one. No problem at all, that’s for Coach Cal and the staff to fix. Wheeler is going to bring A LOT of tools, A LOT of potential, and he’s bringing them specifically to Kentucky so he can fix those turnover issues. He’s also not a great shooter, but again, that’s what the UK staff is for - to help resolve those issues. He’s not all of the sudden going to turn into CJ Frederick, but if UK can get him over the 30% average, that’s a heck of a start.
In case you missed it in my last post, I compare Wheeler to a mix of Tyler Ulis (undersized) with Ashton Hagans (penetration, finishing) with Isiah Briscoe (poor perimeter shooting).