Going into the month of May with zero point guards on the roster, Kentucky has now added two standouts at the position in just five days, signing 2021 five-star guard TyTy Washington last week and then Georgia guard transfer Sahvir Wheeler on Monday.
The 5-foot-10 guard, who earned second-team All-SEC honors this past season, committed to Kentucky on The Field of 68 with Jeff Goodman over Kansas, LSU and Oklahoma State.
‘Ultimately, after long conversation and deep, deep analyzation of every program, I’m going to commit to the University of Kentucky and play under Coach Cal,” Wheeler announced.
Why Kentucky? It starts with the ability to win a national title at a prestigious program and under a Hall of Fame coach in John Calipari.
“The opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament, and not only play in the NCAA Tournament, but on a roster that is set up to win a national championship,” Wheeler said. “You’ve got guys who are experienced, guys with length, athleticism, and most of all, I’m looking forward to playing with players who can space the floor in CJ (Fredrick), Kellan (Grady), Dontaie Allen and TyTy Washington coming in. That’s a point guard’s dream to be able to play with guys of that talent, guys who are athletic and play a fast game, playing for a prestigious and amazing coaching staff that Coach Cal has with those guys over there.”
The Georgia transfer, who averaged 14.0 points, 7.4 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.7 steals per contest in 2020-21, was intrigued with Calipari’s long history of multi-guard lineups and the success that has routinely followed.
“The biggest things people forget is that Coach Cal almost always has a two-point guard offense,” Wheeler told Goodman. “John Wall and Eric Bledsoe, Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts, Jamal Murray – who plays point guard in the NBA – with Tyler Ulis, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, Isaiah Briscoe with Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis, as well. He had Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander) and Quade (Green), these are guys who were point guards and had success there. Even two years ago with (Tyrese) Maxey, (Immanuel) Quickley, and (Ashton) Hagans.
“Coach Cal has always been straight up with me about who he was recruiting, how I would fit, and ultimately, he wants to get back to winning. And winning is a big thing for me, as well. We’re going to play fast and be exciting, we have experience, we have toughness, we have size, we have athleticism, it’s going to be super fun this year playing for Coach Cal and getting on campus, getting with those guys and building bonds quickly.”
He also says it’s a “point guard’s dream” to be surrounded by elite shooters such as Grady and Fredrick.
“To play with guys, including one who shot almost 50 percent from three, and a scorer like Kellan Grady, that’s a point guard’s dream. I can’t wait to get those guys open looks,” the newest Wildcat said. “Running down the court, “Yes sir! That’s another one! Make ’em pay!” I can’t wait for that, I can’t wait for those moments. And with that, that’s going to give me even more space to operate and give me more open looks, be able to make shots myself. It plays or both parties there, that’s a point guard’s dream to play with guys that talented and can shoot the ball.”
Wheeler understands the pressure that comes with playing point guard at a place like Kentucky, especially with the program coming off arguably its worst season in history. Not only is the Georgia transfer accepting of that challenge, he embraces it with open arms. That’s why he came here.
Calipari approached him with a hunger to win right away, and Wheeler shares that strong desire.
“I think he’s super motivated. He expressed from the first Zoom call to the first text messages how hungry he is to win. This is the time to do it,” Wheeler said. “The University of Kentucky, it’s excellence, it’s greatness. That is the standard. It’s not to make the NCAA Tournament, it’s Elite Eight, Final Four, National Championship, and I’m okay with that. I’ve always played under the bright lights and performed under the bright lights, all my life. That’s a challenge I welcome, a challenge I’m willing to accept. The group there, the roster there, they’re looking for all those same things. He’s super motivated, and I know I am, as well.”
His final message to Big Blue Nation: be ready to win games and compete for a title.
“Big Blue Nation, what’s up? Just know I’m coming to win, I’m coming to compete, I’m coming to earn your respect, coming to prove everybody wrong as far as “We’re not going to be good next year.” We’re reloaded. We’re coming for that national championship,” Wheeler said. “I’m super excited to get on campus and get to know everyone around campus, I appreciate all your support not only now, but in the future, as well. And I’m super excited because I’m hearing rumors that it might go back to full capacity this upcoming basketball season and I’m super excited to see you guys there, that sea of blue all around campus. I’m ready to get to work.”