Georgia coach Tom Crean is drawing attention in college basketball for embracing the relatively new concept of “positionless” basketball. But if he ever finds himself in the need for a pure point guard, he has one.
Freshman Sahvir Wheeler is generously listed at 5-foot-10 on the Bulldogs’ roster. But forgetting the fact that he’s not very tall, one doesn’t have to watch Wheeler play for long to recognize that he possesses all the inherent skills of a traditional point guard.
Those skills were on display in Georgia’s season-opening win over Western Carolina last week, and they’ll be on display at 7 p.m. Tuesday as the Bulldogs (1-0) play host to The Citadel (0-1).
The freshman from Houston enters off a college debut that saw him score 19 points with 3 assists and 3 rebounds.
“He’s a winner, a pure winner, always has been,” Crean raved Monday. “He’s infectious. People like playing with him. He moves the ball. He works extremely hard, and what I like is he’s controlling what he can control.”
Off the court, Wheeler has intelligence and confidence going for him, too. Before the Bulldogs’ practice Monday at the Coliseum Training Facility, he shared his aspirations of working in professional basketball as a general manager. He’s also not afraid to lead his first college team, despite being on campus only a matter of months.
“Playing under coach Crean is fun in itself,” Wheeler said. “He plays a fast brand of basketball and every day he’s teaching you something and you’re learning. So this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and the transition has been pretty easy, because coach Crean makes it easy.”
Wheeler uses his extreme quickness and ball-handling skills to get every teammate involved. Though he’s usually the shortest player on the court, he’s not afraid to drive the lane and often makes his best decisions in midair. There is only a one-game sample size to go by, but having made six of his first seven free throws, there’s reason to believe he’ll validate his reputation of being dependable on the foul line as well.
This is not a revelation in recruiting circles. Wheeler was a consensus 4-star prospect and one of five Top 100 national recruits to sign with the Bulldogs. He was once pledged to Texas A&M before Crean convinced him otherwise.
“He’s making passes, defending at a high rate, he’s getting into the lane, very unselfish,” Crean said. “There’s just a level of toughness about him, strong mental toughness to go with his physical strength.”
Sounds like a great point guard. Call him what you wish, the Bulldogs know they landed an exceptional basketball player in Wheeler.
“And I just think he’ll keep getting better and better,” Crean said.
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