July 24, 2014

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE – The newest recruit for the John A. Logan College men’s basketball team is a familiar face. Rejoining the Volunteers this fall is guard Connor Wheeler.

The 6-foot-2 Du Quoin native averaged 8.6 points, 4.4 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game as a freshman (2012-13). He also shot 84 percent from the free-throw line and was a Great Rivers Athletic All-Conference and All-Region 24 performer at Logan.

Wheeler then transferred to Central Missouri State University this past school year with three years of athletic eligibility remaining, but sustained a stress fracture in his left leg prior to the start of the basketball season, and therefore, was granted a medical redshirt.

It marked the second time in three years that Wheeler has received a medical redshirt, having been granted his first one during his true freshman year (2011-12) at Illinois Wesleyan University, where he suffered a stress fracture of the right leg.

His one healthy year of the three was at Logan. He hopes to repeat that success this school year.

“I’m beyond excited about coming back to Logan,” Wheeler said. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave when I made my decision to go to Central Missouri State because I enjoyed my time here so much. At Central Missouri State, things were going well for me in practice. I was competing for a starting spot, but then started feeling some shooting pains in my left shin.

“I tried to play through it, but after a while, the pain started to wake me up in the middle of the night. So, I got it checked out and found out about the stress fracture.”

Wheeler said he knows his case is a unique one. He could actually be in school six years to play four.

“It’s definitely a path less traveled,” he said. “But I’m going to try to make the most of this opportunity. My dad (Wendell) always tells me that the more pain you go through, the better the reward. I’m not going to let these injuries stop me from playing the game I love.”

Wheeler said he is fully recovered from his injuries and has begun playing some pick-up games this summer with teammates.

Vols third-year head coach Kyle Smithpeters was pleased with the news of Wheeler’s return.

“It’s a unique situation, but we’re very excited about this,” he said. “It’s not often that someone plays at a high level for you, leaves and then comes back. His misfortune with the stress fracture and coaches leaving that university to go to Mizzou worked to our benefit on this occasion. We are so glad to have Connor back.”

Smithpeters said Wheeler’s detailed college experience will make him a key asset to the ballclub.

“You know you have a good one when the rest of the guys on the roster are excited about the news. That speaks to Connor the person. He’s just a joy to be around. And I know he’s glad to be back, too,” Smithpeters said. “Believe me, there will be no shortage of four-year schools interested in signing him after this coming season, and I expect many of those will be Division I schools.”