TRANSCRIPT: Sahvir Wheeler talks with media during Kentucky Basketball Father/Son Camp

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Continuing on through Kentucky's summer camp events, Friday brought in plenty of fathers and their sons to participate in the annual Father/Son Camp hosted inside of Memorial Coliseum and the Joe Craft Center. As part of the activities, the Wildcats' new point guard, Sahvir Wheeler, was made available to the media to talk some hoops in person. Below is the full transcript from Wheeler's conversation with reporters along with the entire video attached at the bottom of the page. On how he deals with having a fresh set of new teammates... I think the biggest thing is just hanging around each other outside the court, just getting to know each other's personalities. With Coach Cal we've already done a lot of team bonding activities, we're doing camps together, we're constantly hanging around each other. That's the biggest thing. As long as you feel comfortable with a player, you can trust in one another and have that love and passion for one another I think that things go smoothly. We're putting a lot of work in, playing pick-up, we're doing the extra things to make sure we have that advantage that any team last year didn't have. All that's been going really well and that's going to help us. On learning his new teammate's tendencies... I learn something new every day. A guy shows me something that he did previously. A lot of things are super surprising but these guys are good too. They can play at any level, they can play anywhere. To be here at the University of Kentucky, that's the best of the best, the elite of the elite. I'm getting to know it and it's been a super fun process. On what he's seen with his new teammates... I could go down a list of every single player, but these guys are a lot bigger than I thought they were. And that's really saying something because I'm used to being around a bunch of big guys but these dudes, they're physically gifted. They work super hard, they compete, they want to win. Just in the weight room or playing pool, everyone wants to see who's the best. Competing in 2K, competing in this and competing in that. So we're a competitive bunch but you can also tell that we love each other already. We're gonna do some special things here and have each other's back. On his leadership style... My leadership style, I would describe it as being a servant leader, to me. That's how I am. I always want to put others first and make everyone else's life easy. Because I know if everyone is satisfied, everyone else is happy, all those things are gonna come back to me. My biggest thing is instilling confidence in others, empowering guys, making guys feel comfortable and happy and going out there to perform your best whether it's in basketball or outside of basketball. Or kinda being someone you want to hang around when you're down. Continue to uplift your spirit when you're getting that confidence. That's how I would describe my leadership but also, on the flip side, holding guys accountable when I need to. On seeing the history of Kentucky Basketball... I don't think it's hit me yet. I think it's just because I haven't been on campus whether that's going to class and seeing everyone. It's my first time ever on the UK campus and it's crazy just to see the tradition. Also just how recent it is. I know some of these guys personally that have been here and it's been super, super cool and I look forward to trying to be a part of that tradition that's been established here. On how Kentucky having better shooters than Georgia will enhance his game... It's gonna make my game more exciting. It's gonna make our team a lot faster. Guys are gonna have to get to spots and guard from everywhere, from all over the court. and I think that's going to help me because me driving, me attacking, they're gonna have to honor those guys so that's more layup opportunities, more floater opportunities, more opportunities for the lob. And also with that, if I pitch it and they drive off the closeout now I'm in range shoot or I'm ready or I have my feet set. I'm working on my shooting as I have done all summer and I'm already seeing a lot of progress. So it's going to benefit me playing with guys who can really space the floor but its also going to benefit them because it's hard to deal with a guy like me coming downhill full speed at you where you have to decide if you want to stop me or give up a three to a 40-plus percent three-point shooter. On what he expects from his outside shooting... 35-plus (percent) definitely. I expect that, and if you wanna come test it out we can have a little shootout ourselves. We'll see what it's really about. But I definitely expect, from three, to shoot the ball a lot better than I did last year. I've put in a lot of time, a lot of reps. The confidence has always been there but fixing some things mechanically. I think I'm going to have a really good year. On what he's fixing with his jumpshot... Just having the same set point. I'm releasing the ball from the same spot every time, having consistency. Sometimes I have a tendency to start the ball on my right side. It's kinda hard to have consistency when you're starting from the right side when I'm lefthanded. The ball should be lined up--hip, shoulder, follow-through--that's the kinda things I've been focusing on and I'm seeing immediate results. I've been working hard since our last game which was Missouri back in March or whatever it was. On how defenses guard him... Every team has done something different. I've been successful in how I'm playing this far. Teams have tried to force me right and I still go left. Teams have forced me left and I've gone left so I've seen everything. And I think me being a student of the game and being around basketball minds, I've gone on to adapt to every single situation that I've been put into. I'm gonna watch a lot of film. I try to be the smartest guy out there. On how playing in the SEC before will help... Just experience. Being in the situations, being a guy who can calm everything down as far as--you're gonna face adversity. We're playing in the best league in the country, we are Kentucky, we're gonna get everyone's best shot and sometimes at some point on the road we're not gonna make shots. Every game is not everyone shooting 40-plus, hitting all free-throws, all layups, so there's gonna be a time when we have to fight through adversity and me being there, me being in those situations, being a leader, being a guy who can get everyone together and keep them loose and constantly empowered and still confident, I think that's where I'm gonna come in. And just to let the guards know it's okay to make mistakes. It's okay to learn, that's the game of basketball. There hasn't been a perfect game yet, from the best players of all time--Michael Jordan, LeBron (James), Kobe (Bryant)--those guys haven't played a perfect game so we can't expect to. We can try to pursue perfection as close as you can but at the end of the day stay happy, stay loose, and believe in each other. On his reactions to the camps thus far... I think the craziest thing is the amount of fans, the amount of kids, the amount of parents who kinda know my story. I've never had a conversation, I've never done an interview like this up close with you guys, and everyone just knowing my name, knowing where I come from, knowing the success I had. Just showing their love and belief in me and how happy they are that I'm here. That's been the biggest thing. And also you can see our impact directly. You can see how us signing an autograph, us taking a picture, us having that close time one-on-one with a camper and how that affects them, how that affects whoever brought them, their parent, their guardian, their grandparents or aunts. So it's been super cool and super surreal and it's just a blessing. On what was it like going up against Kentucky... This past year we beat Kentucky, I just want to put that out there. But obviously it was a big game. It was at home, it was a must-win game. We had started off slow in the SEC and Kentucky started off 3-0 I believe last year so we knew that was a must-win game and think prior to that Kentucky had won the last 14 meetings between Kentucky and Georgia, so me being a competitor, me being a winner, I wanted to win that game. I knew I had to perform at least a B+ to better game to give us a chance to win the game. I think that happened and at the end of the day we got the win. On how now being on the Kentucky side will change him... I don't think it'll change my game at all. I've always had that attack you mentality no matter if I am the number one or the guy who's chasing the number one. I'll never be the favorite no matter what it is and I treat every game like that. I treat every game like it's my last game, I treat every game to win, I treat every game to prove why I belong or why I'm the best. So I don't think it changes my mentality much but I think it gives me more of a sense of pride of where I am. I'm representing UK, Big Blue Nation, this is a program that is greatness, it represents a lot. I accept that challenge and I look forward to that challenge of being able to win at a really high level and make a run at a national championship. On how he developed the underdog mentality... I wouldn't really say it's underdog, but I grew up--my dad, we had a Bible verse, Numbers 13, it talked about the 12 spies going to the land of Canaan, the promised land, and 10 of those spies was like man these guys are too big, the land is too great for us, we don't deserve to be there. But there were two, Joshua and Caleb, who was like forget what they're saying, we can take this land, this is our land, no matter how big they are. Let's just go in there, take what we demand and we can do it. Because this is the land that God has promised us, so if he's promised us this land why can't we go in there and take it? That mentality has always worked for me. That was the roots of my confidence. No matter where you are, no matter whats going on, you've got to be that guy knowing who you are and you can take over any place you're at. It's never been an underdog, it's more of like I deserve to be here. I know I should be here, I know why. I'm qualified and I'm the best here. On if his size had anything to do with his lack of credit... I might not be the biggest but I'm probably one of the strongest and fastest. I guess two out of three that's not so bad. I always thought size is an advantage. I've been the fastest guy on the floor, I'm the lowest to the ground, I have the best center of gravity. I'm the quickest, I can get to balls, I can challenge on the defensive end. Offensively, it's harder to contain smaller guards. No one wants to get down there and guard me, and if you are down there, you gotta sit down in a stance for a period of time and beat me to the next spot. I find that very challenging. On team bonding activities he's done this year that he couldn't do last year... At Georgia, everything was quarantined. We couldn't really see each other even in the next hotel room down, you could not get out of your room. they had constant patrol, things like hey you can't be out here you can't talk to anyone. And just being here, being with you guys, that's more human interaction all last summer just right now. So that's the biggest thing. And obviously with my teammates, we're staying in the same place, we're traveling on trains, we're traveling via van to different camps. Like I mentioned earlier we're downstairs playing the game with each other, watching the NBA, I'm with the coaches almost every day. So all that stuff is great stuff to build comradery and build chemistry leading up to next year and obviously the beginning of summer development. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aG7KHEQoY08

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2021-09-24