[caption id="attachment_349592" align="alignnone" width="1024"] (Photo: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
It's not often the case that a second-team All-SEC member who led the conference in both assists (7.4 APG) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.68) becomes available during the offseason, but that's exactly what came to fruition when Georgia star point guard Sahvir Wheeler put his name in the transfer portal last week.
And after sifting through the endless supply of phone calls and text messages he's received since exploring his options, ten schools have separated themselves from the pack: Gonzaga, Kansas, Kentucky, LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Stanford, Texas and Wichita State.
It's not necessarily a list cut, but those are the schools he's focused on as he looks to take the next step in the process, the 5-foot-10 guard tells KSR.
"I just put out the list of top schools that have been constantly reaching out and that I'm focused on," he said. "I'm not really in a position yet to cut it down even more, I know that's going to take place in the next week or two, just kind of sorting everything out.
"... Those are the schools who have reached out to me primarily. That isn't a top ten list or anything, just the schools who are reaching out to me the most."
Among the contenders? The Kentucky Wildcats, who are in desperate need of adding a starting point guard to the fold leading up to the 2021-22 season. UK has made it clear they are interested, even if contact took a slight dip over the last week as the program navigated through the tragic loss of freshman guard Terrence Clarke, along with the coaching departures of both Joel Justus and Tony Barbee.
"Obviously the level of contact isn't as (high) because there's just a lot of stuff going on with the passing of their recent player (Terrence Clarke) and the coaching changes," Wheeler told KSR. "I'm just taking it day by day with every school. But those guys have a lot going on right now, and so does everybody in the country as far as just staying healthy and people making the best decisions for themselves regarding their future."
Wheeler is also testing the draft waters, hoping to receive feedback from NBA teams before deciding on returning to school or making the jump. If teams tell him to return to school for another season, he's comfortable doing so, hoping to reach his dreams at the collegiate level before turning pro in 2022.
"Yeah, everything is fluid. The date of the draft, the day you can decide to come back to school if you want to, those are solidified, but there's nothing set in stone yet with NBA workouts," Wheeler said of the draft process. "COVID has a lot to do with that, so as far as me, I'm just taking it day by day. Trying to get better, trying to keep myself prepared for when that moment comes and when the opportunity presents itself where I can go work out and get in front of NBA personnel, get their feedback, see what I can do to elevate and enhance my game.
"If it takes one more year to come back to school and do that, make the right decision for me and ultimately achieve my dreams of playing in the NCAA Tournament, reaching the Final Four, playing for the National Championship, I'll do that before moving on to the NBA level."
That will be one of the top deciding factors for Wheeler if he ultimately decides to return to school. If he comes back, he wants to transfer to a program on a bigger stage where he can help them make a run in the NCAA Tournament.
"Hopefully next year, when I choose a destination that I feel comfortable with as the right situation, I'm going to prove that some more on a bigger stage and on a higher level. Hopefully that can catapult me to the next level, get in the NBA conversation," Wheeler told KSR. "... Big stage, being able to contend for a national championship, Final Four, playing style, playing fit, all those things are factors I'll consider when making my decision."
As for who he is as a player, the Georgia standout considers himself a "dynamic playmaker" who can do anything asked of him on the floor. Points, assists, defense, whatever it takes to help the team win games, he's willing to do.
"I consider myself a dynamic playmaker, a guy who can make the right play. I'm not pass-first, I'm not score-first, I'm a guy who will make the right play," Wheeler said. "If the game calls for me to get 10 assists, 15 assists, four points, so be it. If the game calls for me to get 20 points and five assists, I'm gonna do that too. I'm just trying to do whatever it takes to win the game, a guy who can do it on both ends of the court. I'm always looking to expand my game, work on areas I need to improve.
"Ultimately, I'm just trying to win, that's my main thing. I'll impact games, impact winning, impact the community, impact people around me who just want to watch me play basketball. That's my biggest thing."
The second-team All-SEC member takes pride in being known as one of the top playmakers in not only the conference, but all of college basketball.
"That's how I've always been, I've always been a guy who can make plays at any level," he said. "There have always been doubters who have said I couldn't do this, couldn't do that in high school, couldn't do it playing at the SEC level, I went and dominated that last year. I take pride in that, I take pride in being the best, I take pride in what I do."
His style of play on the floor bleeds into who he is off the floor. Wheeler is a leader, looking to bring people together in both basketball and life in general.
"Those things intertwine, I'm a servant leader, I like to make people happy, I want what's best for everyone," Wheeler told KSR. "I'm going to bring excitement with my play, I'm going to bring passion with my play. That's who I am off the floor, as well. I'm a guy who tries to galvanize groups of people to come together for one common goal, I have an outgoing personality. I'm laid back, but I can also be funny at times. I like to think of myself as a good person to be around, good energy, good vibes. I like to constantly give love to the people I'm around."
Wheeler averaged 14.0 points, 7.4 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 34.8 minutes per contest as a sophomore. He's shooting 42.8% from the field, 26.2% from three, and 72.0% from the line over the course of two seasons at Georgia.