June 14, 2015

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE - John A. Logan College sophomore guard Connor Wheeler of Du Quoin has verbally committed to play basketball next season at Division I Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

Wheeler is a unique case in that he has actually completed four years of college due to two medical redshirt seasons - one at Illinois Wesleyan (2012) and one at Central Missouri State (2014). The other two years (2013 and 2015) were both spent at Logan.

This past season, Wheeler averaged 5.2 points; three rebounds; and three assists per game. He also shot 39 percent from beyond the three-point arc and 83 percent from the free-throw line for a Vols' team that finished 27-7 and advanced to the Nationals for the first time in 20 years.

Two years ago, the 6-foot-1 point guard took on more of a scoring role with the team and averaged 13 points a game and was named to the Great Rivers Athletic All-Conference and All-Region 24 teams.

Wheeler said SIUE should be a good fit for him.

"I'm really excited to get over there and get playing," he said. "It's a dream come true for me to play Division I basketball. It's been a long road, but it feels good to finally have a place to call home."

Wheeler said former Saluki standout and current Cougars assistant coach, Kent Williams, recruited him.

"I'd like to think I'm a guy who can bring veteran leadership to the SIU-E team. I've played a lot of basketball these last four years and I want to help Coach Jon Harris and his staff build their basketball program."

Wheeler added that he is confident that his experience on the hardwood makes him an asset to the Cougars.

"Having spent two years with Coach Smithpeters and Coach (Zach) Carpenter, I feel I am more than ready to compete at the Division I level," Wheeler said. "I know I have gotten better at every aspect of my game. I've gone from being primarily a scorer in high school to a pass-first point guard today, who can still score if needed. I'm also a much better defender than I ever was before."

Smithpeters said Wheeler will be "very much missed" by his Logan family.

"Connor is a true asset to any basketball program," Smithpeters said. "He will allow Coach Harris and SIUE get off to a strong start and headed in the right direction. Connor is smart and a tough kid who can put a whole program under his wing and help lead his teammates."
Wheeler said there shouldn't be much of a learning curve for him.

"There isn't going to be much that will surprise me, I can tell you that," he said. "What really helps is that I am bigger, stronger, and more mature. I will be a 22-year-old going up against 18 and 19-year-olds on some occasions."

Wheeler said he couldn't have asked for a better experience than the one he enjoyed at Logan.

"From my teammates to my coaches, the instructors, staff...it's been really wonderful. I'm glad to say I was a part of a team that won a conference and regional championship. I can't wait til they hang a new banner in the gym."

The son of Wendell and Kim Wheeler, Connor said he is pursuing a degree in the Liberal Arts field with a specialization in child development. He said he "absolutely" wants to coach college basketball when his playing career is over.