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1 Day to Purdue Basketball: Aaron Wheeler

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The redshirt freshman brings athleticism and untapped potential after sitting out a year.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-East Regional Practice Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Wheeler

6’9” | 200 lbs. | Brewster Academy

(RS) Freshman | Wing

Role: Key Reserve/ Potential Starter

This is it, folks. The college basketball season is upon us. When you wake up tomorrow, it’ll be gameday. Last year doesn’t matter anymore. The disappointments, the highs, all gone, just like the seniors last year.

Everyone is undefeated. Everyone is hopeful. As West Lafayette celebrates its football team shocking turnaround after a poor start, the real heart of Boilermaker pride and passion starts on Tuesday against Fairfield. Mackey Arena will fill with people and freshman will take the court for the first time in front of them, and seniors will prepare for their last season opener. The weight of previous seasons might fall heavy on the fans who have suffered near success and glory the last two years, but for these players and this season, the record is 0-0. This is a new season. This is their chance to write their chapter.

He takes off left side of the court after a miss. He’s nearly seven feet tall, long arms and long skinny legs, but he moves gracefully. It’s almost Durantesque, a gazelle taking off in the open safari, and when Carsen Edwards bounces a pass to him he catches it and leaps up, only there’s no violence to the motion. He rises as if not against gravity, but with gravity, on wings, up and up towards the rim, and then the violence of the ball being thrown through twine, fingers banging the orange iron.

Aaron Wheeler spent last year redshirting. He watched and waited as last year’s senior class went on a near 20 game win streak and nearly won the Big Ten and made it to the Sweet Sixteen. It is now his time, and those that watched him last year, have no doubt what he’s capable of bringing to Keady Court this year.

“First off, my guy Snoop is an outstanding person. He has a colorful personality that you want around the team. He needs to bring that energy and personality every day. You want to be around him and hang out with him. On the floor, he has NBA athleticism and has worked really hard on his game. You saw glimpses of it in practice last year, but now he’s had more time in the program and he’s ready to take off. I can’t wait to watch him this year.” - Vincent Edwards

He’ll need to be this good because Wheeler is one of the few players capable of filling in the gaps left behind by Purdue’s most successful senior class. His length and athleticism allows him to sky in for rebounds, defend multiple positions, and run in transition. He will need to show a refinement and polish to his game for this team to recognize their potential. If he can realize these things and have a consistent shot from the outside, he becomes the kind of athletic and versatile problem that other teams will struggle to have an answer for.

But he’s a freshman and that means what he is and what he will be are both unknown. Much like this team, Wheeler has all the potential to be a star, but potential is as terrifying as it is tantalizing.

That’s this Purdue season, a mix horror and hope, and it starts now.