With CJ Walker deciding to forgo the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to the global pandemic, the Ohio State staff decided they wanted to add another point guard to their roster for the upcoming 2021-2022 college basketball season.
The staff looked at a number of players in the transfer portal that fit what they wanted, which was a great defensive player on the perimeter who could also run the offense at a high level as a floor general. They eventually settled on an in-conference foe over the last few years in Penn State’s Jamari Wheeler, who had mutual interest and announced his decision to transfer from the Nittany Lions to the Buckeyes back on March 30.
“I wanted to go somewhere that I fit in at,” Wheeler told Buckeye Scoop this week. “I was not going to take steps back and I wanted to just keep going forward. I wanted to find somewhere that could help me continue to take my game to the next level and give me the best chance to go pro. I also wanted to go somewhere that I could compete for a conference championship and national championship, because at the end of the day it’s all about wining and I felt like OSU was the best fit for me.”
Some viewed the move within the Big Ten to be a bit awkward, but despite competing against the Buckeyes throughout his college career, Wheeler didn’t think twice about it.
“No, it’s not going to be weird for me,” he responded when asked. “I think its going to be a lot easier of a transition because I have been playing in the Big Ten all four years and I know what it takes to be successful and win in this league. Plus, I wanted to continue playing in the best conference in college basketball.”
Wheeler joins a roster that already features Jimmy Sotos and Meechie Johnson at the point guard position, with Duane Washington also somewhat factoring into the ball handling mix as well if he decides to withdraw from the NBA Draft process in the next month. The veteran guard talked about his expected role with the Buckeyes.
“The staff has told me they want me to do the same things I did at Penn State plus more,” Wheeler shared. “They want me to keep doing what I do on defense, and keep improving my game on offense. They think I can be a great leader for this team.”
Finally, Wheeler discussed what he feels he’ll bring to the program, as well as his goals for his final year of eligibility at the college level.
“I’ll bring them a winner,” he stated. “I’ll be a competitive, great leader and someone that is going to bring maturity both on and off the court.
“I get there in June and my goals are to win the Big Ten, both in the regular season and in the tournament. I want to win the national championship. Personally, I’d like to win the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award and be First Team All-Conference. I’d like to be the best point guard in the country and elevate my game so that I can become a pro after this year.”