Head coach: Neal Cobleigh (13th season). Assistant coaches: Keyokah Mars-Garrick, Ryan Noonan.
Last year: Wheeler finished 12-11 and won a game in the Class S state tournament, its first tourney win since 2007. Coronavirus ended the season early.
Returning to varsity:
Seniors: Lukas Jones (G, captain), Sam Taylor (F, captain). Juniors: Mike Caster (F), Kayleb Startz (G), Blake Stedman (F). Sophomore: Nick Larkin (F).
New to varsity:
Freshmen: Jon Anderson (G), Deondre Bransford (F), Wyatt Elliott (F), Kyle Kessler (G), Kyle Montigny (G), Keith Zardies (G).
Outlook: Wheeler lost a number of seniors who had been significant contributors for four years.
“They made a lot of contributions to the program, but I think the freshman group we have can rival that,” Cobleigh said.
But first, those coming back from last season:
Jones is a good 3-pointer shooter, making about 40% of his attempts from distance last season. He averaged 8.4 points per game.
Larkin, who stands 6-foot-3, can play around the rim. He averaged 5.3 points and 5.6 rebounds last season, and those numbers will go up. Startz and Burdick will also contribute.
Taylor hit a huge shot in the state tournament win and will be in the mix.
Now, for the freshmen:
Zardies, Kessler and Bransford will all see significant minutes.
“They are all tremendous athletes. It is a big jump and adjustment from middle school to varsity, but they are tough,” Cobleigh said.
Cobleigh said the Lions should be pretty solid on defense, and he thinks Kessler can push the ball as the Lions’ point guard.
“I think we have to become better shooters, but I don’t know if I’m ever satisified with shooting,” Cobleigh said.
Coach’s take: “We just want to get through this season and be healty and safe. We don’t concede anything to anyone.”
— Keith Kimberlin