TRANSCRIPT: Sahvir Wheeler meets with media for first time as a Kentucky Wildcat

Aritcle written by:Zack GeogheganZack Geoghegan

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Sahvir Wheeler is officially a Kentucky Wildcat and he was unofficially inaugurated on Wednesday morning when he met with the media for the first time at his new school. The 5-foot-10 point guard recently made the decision to transfer from Georgia after two seasons with the Bulldogs that saw him earn All-SEC honors as a sophomore. Wheeler went in-depth with his answers, talking about the comparisons to Tyler Ulis, the SEC's current intraconference transfer rules, and his knowledge of Kentucky Basketball's past. Below is the full transcript from Wheeler's press conference along with the complete video at the bottom of the post.
On point guards having the ability to manage personalities … “Not everyone reacts the same to, you know, adversity. Everyone needs a little different motivator. Some people you can be hard on, you can really challenge, but some people you’ve got to constantly uplift and provide confidence. Be like, ‘Yo I believe in you. You can do this.’ But some other people could be like, ‘Man, now come on. Let’s get going. Let’s go right here. Step up.’ That’s all different personalities. I think I’ve had a lot of practice with that due to the fact that I have five younger siblings and I’m the oldest at my house. It’s been something that I’ve constantly gotten better at, not only with the practice but with the different teams and different environments in high school to college with two different rosters my freshman year to my sophomore year. Now here at Kentucky it’s going to be a whole new roster again. That’s what I kind of meant by that. I feel like just knowing the guys in the group chat, the group messages that we’ve had it is going to be pretty easy to get along with everyone. Everyone is buying in already, so I’m super excited.” On how he compensates for not being a traditional size of a Calipari point guard and what are the advantages … “Yeah, like you said, the average is 6-3, but I feel like I’m the fastest or one of the fastest Coach Cal is going to have. I’m probably up there with (De’Aaron) Fox. It’s pretty ironic because Fox is from Houston. But I think the advantages that I’m going to have is similar to Tyler Ulis as far as guarding the ball, being a defensive pest, being disruptive on that end, and offensively using my speed to get into the paint and be a distributor, scoring when I need to, being a playmaker, making the right plays, trying to make everyone else’s life easier so we can win some games down here.” On being compared to Tyler Ulis … “That’s cool with me. Tyler Ulis was the SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. So, if I’m getting that comparison, I think I’m doing some things right. Obviously, I have to continue to get better to live up to that, but I’m super excited. He was a successful guard in college. He was super successful here at the University of Kentucky and I’m really cool with that. I’m also cool with being the next, the one and only Sahvir Wheeler as well.” On his decision to transfer and if the ability to play right away had an impact … “I mean, it obviously had some impact as far as, you know, wanting to transfer this year, but I think the biggest thing for me was the fact that we had the COVID year. I was isolated the majority of the year, not being able to be around my family and friends. I’ve only seen my parents twice during this past school year in 10 months or so and that’s something, you know, that’s unheard of. So, I was forced to really look in and see what I value. I was forced, you know, to kind of like reevaluate the whole situation as far as looking at basketball from a business standpoint. I wanted to see what opportunities were going to be out there where I could better myself and have an opportunity to make a run at the national championship and also put myself in position to play at the next level and achieve my dreams. After a lot of reevaluation and knowing that the one-time transfer rule was possibly a thing that could pass this year, I decided to look elsewhere and eventually end up at the University of Kentucky.” On being a point guard who sometimes goes off script … “Yeah, I’ve done that in college as well. I think the biggest thing is having that trust with the coaching staff. Not only for you to trust them, but they have to trust you as a point guard ultimately. You’re the extension of the coaching staff on the court. When you’re playing at Kansas in Phog Allen with 16,000-plus people yelling and cheering during the game, you’re not going to be able to hear Coach Cal on the other side. So, as the point guard and as the leader, as the floor general, you’re going to have to be able to make some of those calls when you can’t hear them necessarily. But Coach has to know that, he’s going to make the right call, he’s going to put us in the best positions to score. Also, when you feel like you’ve got to run that play that Coach Cal calls because you don’t want to do something else and it not work out. So, you’ve got to have a healthy balance between the two. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to being able to trust each other and knowing that you want to put the team in the best position to score and win games.” On if he is a student of Kentucky basketball with all the names he has dropped … “[Laughs.] Nah, I would like to call myself a student of the game just in general, but any great point guard that comes through college basketball I’ve had a little study session with my dad at some point. But Kentucky specifically, because I always wanted to play in the SEC. I feel like this league was built for guards like me to play fast, to be up-tempo, to be productive. They’ve had a lot of guards come through Kentucky, obviously, who were all those things. So, that’s why I guess I consider myself a Kentucky historian per se a little bit. I’m just super excited to be here.” On signing with Kentucky just a few days after UK signed TyTy Washington at point guard and what that says about the confidence in himself … “Yeah. I wouldn’t be here without my self-confidence. That’s just being honest. Not a lot of 5-10, sub 6-foot guards playing in the SEC at a high-major (school) that are productive. You’ve got to have a little bit of self-confidence and know what you bring to a team no matter who’s there. But, Coach Cal was very straight-up and genuine from the beginning. Like, I knew that he was recruiting another guard and I knew that it would be a guard that we could complement each other. TyTy is unselfish. I’m unselfish. He can score. I can score. He can really shoot it. That’s something I’m working on and hopefully you all are going to be able to say that about me at the end of the year. Like, I knew everything that was going on and I’m super excited and looking forward to the opportunity to get to know him and build a bond and build a friendship and a brotherhood that will last a lifetime.” On if there was any hesitation with the Southeastern Conference’s current transfer rule still in place … “I mean, it was a little bit, but I felt like, from what I’ve gathered with my parents and their resources, I wouldn’t have made the move if I felt like I was going to have to sit out this year. But, I think that rule is going to pass. Hopefully it will. I’m pretty sure it will. At the end of the day, I was just looking for the best opportunity for me whether I was going to play this year or I wasn’t. I was looking forward to an opportunity to play right away. When I was able to play, to have an immediate impact, make an impact on winning, make a run at the national championship, and surround myself with guys who are going to help elevate my game not only from a player standpoint but from a coaching standpoint, that are going to hold me accountable on a day-to-day basis to be at my best, to be the best version of myself.” On playing in Rupp Arena two seasons ago and what he remembers about that experience having played in front of a full house … “Rupp Arena, obviously, is a one-of-a-kind environment and one of the best environments in college basketball. To defend myself a little bit there, that game I was battling an ankle injury. I was wearing a boot beforehand and after the game, so that kind of hindered my performance there. But it’s a big-time, big-time place. Like, when you come into Rupp, I’m like, ‘Bro, am I playing in the NBA right now?’ So, it’s a one-of-a-kind thing and I’m super excited to be able to play as the home team and be able to represent Big Blue Nation and go out there and be excited and win games and have Kentucky back where it’s supposed to be.” On why he chose Kentucky …  “I think the biggest thing is the platform. The platform that Kentucky has, the stage that if you’re excelling and you’re competing at a high level and you’re being productive, that puts you in a different atmosphere, a different environment than anywhere else. Also, just looking from a roster standpoint, I’ve never got to play with elite shooters like Kentucky has this year on its roster, especially in college. I’ve never got to play with the elite athleticism, the size, the length, the versatility with the wings and the forwards. And also, being able to play for a coaching staff who has put multiple point guards in the NBA Draft, who has developed them throughout the years and given them confidence and empowered them. Not only that, but me being very familiar with the SEC. I’ve been in this conference for two years. I’m almost like a vet now. I know what to expect. I know the different coaching styles and the different coaching staffs and what they like. I know what it takes to win. Not only that, I am all-conference, I am All-SEC here, so it’s a conference I’m super familiar with and comfortable with and also productive in.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyZTifm6_aE

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2021-09-25

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