On Tuesday night, the Buckeye men’s basketball team picked up a bit of an unusual addition as former Penn State guard Jamari Wheeler announced that he would be playing his fifth season of collegiate basketball for Ohio State.
With the departure of C.J. Walker, Chris Holtmann was in the market for a new ball-handler to help out young point guard Meechie Johnson and emerging superstar Duane Washington Jr. Wheeler isn’t going to set the world on fire offensively, but he is arguably one of the best defensive guards in the country, having been named to the Big Ten All-Defensive Team in each of the last two seasons.
He averaged a career-high 6.8 points per game for the Nits in the 2020-21 season, adding 3.5 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per outing. And considering that he only turns the ball over 1.8 times per game, he has a nearly 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio; good enough to make it into the top-10 in the conference.
Land-Grant Holy Land’s men’s basketball expert Connor Lemons said of Wheeler, “He’s gonna be a defensive stopper; not crazy talented on the offensive side, but he’ll almost definitely start. He’ll probably give you a little less than [Walker] did on offense, but is much better defensively.”
Having played a total of 127 games in his four-year career, Wheeler is taking advantage of the NCAA’s super-senior rule thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will use his final year of eligibility with the Buckeyes. This addition fills a much needed hole for the Buckeyes who were already short in the back-court this season, but unexpectedly struggled on the defensive side of the court.
Wheeler continues Holtmann’s tradition of bringing in veteran guards to provide depth and experience to his teams, starting with Andrew Dakich, and continuing with Jimmy Sotos, and Abel Porter.
Welcome to the family, Jamari!