Ohio State didn't have to leave the Big Ten to make a roster addition.
Jamari Wheeler, a Penn State Nittany Lion for the past four years, announced his decision to join the Buckeyes via transfer on Tuesday evening.
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound guard will play one season of basketball in Columbus. He'll utilize the extra year of eligibility offered by the NCAA in response to the coronavirus pandemic after playing four years in white and blue.
The Wheeler File
- Year: Senior
- Size: 6-foot-1, 170 pounds
- Pos: Guard
- School: Penn State
- Stats: 6.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists per game last season
Across four seasons with Penn State, Wheeler played in 127 games, starting all but seven games he played in the final three years of his time in State College, Pennsylvania. He averaged 6.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 31.2 minutes per game with a shooting split of 39.9/35.7/62.9 as a senior in 2020-21. Wheeler is thought of as a quality distributor – with approximately a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover rate each of the past three years – and a fine outside shooter. He improved his 3-point percentage drastically between his first two years (14.3 percent and 18.2 percent) and last two years (38.9 percent and 35.7 percent).
Much of the reason he gained notoriety over the past several years – and the main reason the Buckeyes targeted him in the transfer portal – was due to his defensive prowess and competitiveness. Wheeler managed at least 1.3 steals per game every year with Penn State, including 1.8 per game as a senior. His steal rate of 3.2 percent ranked 114th nationally and was higher than any player's on Ohio State's roster. After beating the Nittany Lions by 10 points in February, head coach Chris Holtmann specifically mentioned Wheeler (and forward John Harrar, who's also in the transfer portal) for his competitiveness, calling him a “warrior.”
Each of the past two years, Wheeler was an All-Big Ten Defensive Team selection.
Wheeler opted to move on from Penn State to play a fifth season of college hoops when he entered the transfer portal on March 16. Along with the Buckeyes, UNLV, TCU, Wright State, Morgan State, and Tulsa reportedly contacted him.
Now a guard at Ohio State, Wheeler joins a backcourt that's also set to feature fifth-year Jimmy Sotos, fourth-year Duane Washington Jr., second-year Meechie Johnson and first-year Malaki Branham.