Georgia transfer Sahvir (pronounced Sah-veer) Wheeler, who led the Southeastern Conference and ranked in the top five nationally in assists per game in 2020-21, has signed with the Kentucky men’s basketball team.
Wheeler, a 5-foot-10 guard from Houston, averaged 11.3 points and 5.8 assists per game in 57 career games with the Bulldogs.
The NCAA Division I Council recently adopted legislation allowing a one-time transfer without requirement to sit out a year. However, current SEC intraconference transfer rules remain in effect for a student-athlete in any sport to serve the aforementioned year-in-residence. The league is expected to evaluate this rule in the near future. Wheeler will have three seasons of eligibility.
“I chose the University of Kentucky because it gives me the best opportunity to make a run at a national championship and pursue my dreams of playing in the NBA,” Wheeler said. “I can’t wait to get to Lexington and get to work.”
Wheeler is the fourth transfer Kentucky has added to its roster for next season over the last three and a half months. Forward Oscar Tshiebwe, a sophomore this past season, joined the program in late January from West Virginia, Davidson guard Kellan Grady, a graduate transfer, announced his decision in late March, and CJ Fredrick, a guard from Iowa, signed with the Wildcats earlier this month.
“Sahvir is the kind of player that dictates the pace of the game, who gets easy baskets for himself and his teammates, and who can be disruptive defensively,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “He is what you look for in a point guard in that he puts his teammates in positions to score, yet he can score the ball in bunches when he needs to. He was a second-team all-conference player as a sophomore and almost routinely put up games with double-digit assists, including setting the SEC Tournament record this last season with 13. I am excited for him to be a part of this program and my guess is our players will be too.”
Wheeler is a dynamic point guard who can contribute in a multitude of ways. He was an All-SEC Second Team selection by both the league’s coaches and the media as a sophomore. Wheeler paced the conference in assists per game with 7.4, but he also led the Bulldogs in scoring with 14.0 per game and steals at 1.7 per outing. His 22 games scoring in double figures was also a squad best.
Wheeler was fifth in the country in assists per game and his total assists ranked third.
The Houston native broke Georgia’s single-season assist record with 193 dimes, bettering Pertha Robinson’s mark of 169 set in 1995. Wheeler needed just 24 games to break the record. He was also the league’s best in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.7 to become the fourth player since 2000 to lead the conference in both assists per game and assist-to-turnover ratio.
Wheeler had eight double-doubles of the point-assist variety during his standout sophomore campaign. He also registered the first triple-double in program history with 14 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds against LSU on Feb. 23.
He opened his sophomore campaign with three straight double-doubles. Wheeler had 12 points and 12 dimes against Florida A&M, 17 points and 10 assists vs. North Georgia and 21 points and 10 assists against Jacksonville.
Wheeler’s 27 points at Florida were the most points in a game by any Bulldog in 2020-21. Furthermore, his 13 assists against Missouri in the SEC Tournament set a new tournament standard.
For his career, Wheeler has started 43 of his 57 games played and has topped 135 assists in both seasons. He has scored in double figures in 33 games and has eight games with double-digit assists. Nine times Wheeler has induced three or more steals in a game with a career-high of five at Florida on Feb. 20.
He averaged 9.0 points and 4.5 assists per game as a freshman. Wheeler began his career as a top reserve before starting the final 17 games of the season. His 139 assists set a new freshman standard in Georgia program history. He ranked 87th nationally in assists per game which ranked as the sixth-best mark among freshmen nationally.
Wheeler earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors following nine points and eight assists against SMU. That win included a pair of layups from Wheeler to force overtime and then an eventual game-winner with 1.9 seconds remaining. He tallied a season-high 24 points in an overtime loss to Alabama and delivered the top play in SportsCenter’s Top 10 on March 11 with a half-court buzzer-beater to conclude the first half of the SEC Tournament against Ole Miss.
A former four-star recruit from Houston Christian High School, Wheeler was the No. 78 overall prospect by ESPN. He led his high school to back-to-back Southwest Preparatory state titles and finished his final two seasons with a combined record of 61-13. Wheeler was named the Houston Private School MVP by the Houston Chronicle and was an all-state selection by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches as a senior. He was named the co-MVP of the 2019 Big Baller Brand All-America game, where he posted 34 points and eight assists.
Kentucky’s 2021-22 roster continues to take shape. Freshman guards Brandon Boston Jr. and the late Terrence Clarke announced their intentions to declare for the NBA Draft and pursue a professional career, as did senior forward Olivier Sarr. Freshman forward Isaiah Jackson and graduate guard Davion Mintz have also entered their names in the draft but have indicated they are open to returning after going through the draft evaluation process.
In addition to the four transfers, Kentucky signed freshman guard TyTy Washington on Wednesday and added highly-touted prospects Daimion Collins and Bryce Hopkins during the fall signing period. All three are consensus top-50 prospects, out of high school. The seven newcomers will team up with some of the most significant roster returns in the Calipari era.