St. John’s didn’t waste any time.
A day after rotation players Greg Williams Jr. and Marcellus Earlington entered the transfer portal, Mike Anderson and his staff filled a need by landing a verbal commitment from Purdue combo forward Aaron Wheeler.
The 6-foot-9 junior from Stamford, Conn., who has two years of eligibility left, can play on the wing and in the paint. He’s known for his athleticism and leaping ability as a reserve for the Big Ten stalwart.
Wheeler has family in Queens, and his father Bill played for Bishop Loughlin in Brooklyn alongside Mark Jackson. St. John’s assistant coach Van Macon has known the family for decades. Wheeler averaged a career-best 18.3 points per game this year, along with 3.9 points and 4.4 rebounds.
A coach familiar with Wheeler described him as a definite high-major rotation player with untapped potential who fits better in St. John’s up-tempo style than Purdue’s slow-paced half-court system.
“His length and activity in St. John’s press will be good for them,” the coach said. “I think St. John’s will let him play a little more free on offense, which will loosen him up and allow him to just ball.
“It seemed like he was so worried about taking the wrong shot and getting subbed out at Purdue that it always limited his aggressiveness.”
St. John’s sees Wheeler as an upgrade over what it had in the frontcourt last year other than Julian Champagnie, a player capable of defending at a high level and also scoring inside and out, or making plays for others.
Wheeler is the next transfer St. John’s has added, joining Vermont grad transfer guard Stef Smith. The Johnnies have lost six players to the transfer portal since the season ended.
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