This news today has been speculated for a long time, but today it became official:
Purdue junior Aaron Wheeler has entered the transfer portal.— Travis Branham (@TravisBranham_) March 23, 2021
Averaged 3.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and one assist this season. || @247SportsPortal
Wheeler has been an interesting player in his team at Purdue. After redshirting as a freshman in 2017-18 he emerged as a key reserve in 2018-19, averaging a career best 4.9 points per game in 13.7 minutes. One unsung moment was in the first half against Virginia in the 2019 NCAA Tournament, when he had a made three, but after a review it was ruled after the shot clock. That ended up being a pretty significant call in retrospect, as was his missed dunk when he was fouled in the second half. Those two plays, a key three and jaw-dropping display of athleticism, were his hallmarks.
We slowly saw his production slide the last two seasons, however. After shooting 36.5% from three (31 of 85) as a redshirt freshman he slipped to 21.6% (21 of 97) last year. This year was slightly better at 26.6% (17 of 64), but the improvement we expected wasn’t there.
Wheeler had (and still has, to an extent) so much promise as a lanky athletic wing that could shoot the three, rebound, defend, and score in transition, but it never truly played out. The emergence of Mason Gillis pushed him out of the starting lineup and with Trey Kaufman and Caleb Furst coming in as blue chip recruits it seems like he saw the writing on the wall.
technically Wheeler can play two more seasons, as this year’s Free COVID year won’t hurt him eligibility-wise. As a grad transfer he can play immediately as well. With his departure and the decommitment of Jameel Brown a few days ago Purdue can now technically return the remaining 10 scholarship players from this season through 2022-23 as a result, plus add Kaufman, Furst, and Fletcher Loyer, and still be at the limit in 2022-23.
I am still a Wheeler fan though. His considerable athleticism was fun to watch and he did have some stretches of hot shooting (three first half threes to help ruin Bob Knight Day last year). Hopefully he lands somewhere he can thrive, and after four years in the program he likely will take a Purdue degree with him. He also led by example and always put in the work.
You’re still family, Wheels.