At the beginning of the 2011-2012 season, Gelaun Wheelwright was planning on sitting the season out as a redshirt freshman. Now halfway through the year, he is a consistent contributor to the Weber State University men’s basketball team.
The 5-foot-11-inch, 195-pound freshman was originally set to redshirt this season, but with injuries to Kyle Bullinger and Frank Otis, Wheelwright was asked to fill in and was elevated to the team before the game against the University of California. WSU’s Head Coach Randy Rahe said he appreciates his contribution.
“He’s given us good minutes off the bench,” Rahe said.
Rahe said that he doesn’t expect Wheelwright and the other young players on the team to be perfect, but just wants them to play hard.
“I tell them, I don’t care if you make mistakes,” Rahe said, “as long as you work hard, I’ll get over the mistakes.”
Wheelwright is a native of Corona, Calif. He was a star high school basketball player and was recruited by many big-name schools such as the University of Southern California and San Diego State University. He was one of the top high school players in the Los Angeles area.
Wheelwright played at Centennial High School, the same school as WSU running back Barrinton Collins. As a junior, he averaged 18.4 points and 2.3 rebounds per game and helped lead his team to the Big 8 championships and a third place finish at the Max Preps Torrey Pines Classic in San Diego. He was also named to the First Team All-Big 8 Academic Team.
As a senior, he averaged 18.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while leading Centennial to a 30-5 overall record and a 14-0 league record.
Despite being heavily recruited by larger schools in California, Wheelwright said that he is happy he chose to come to WSU, and that he loves the relationship he has with the team.
“My teammates and coaches,” Wheelwright said, “they’re my second family.”
With the exception of snow and cold weather, Wheelwright said he likes Utah. He said that basketball takes up a large part of his life and had to think when asked about other interests.
“Besides basketball,” Wheelwright said, “video games, I guess.”
Wheelwright said he has a passion for basketball and has set goals for this year and his future.
His personal goal is to be freshman of the year in the Big Sky conference. Regardless of whether that happens, Coach Rahe says he has a bright future with the team.
“Great kid. He’s athletic and shoots well,” Rahe said.
This season, he has played in 11 games and is averaging just less than four points a game. On Saturday against the University of Montana, Wheelwright played a part in the Wildcats win over the Grizzlies. He came off the bench and scored seven points and pulled down three rebounds in nine minutes of playing time.
Wheelwright said he feels that he can improve his play and still has a long way to go. But his hard work has given him playing time, and the team has been playing well and has had quality play from its bench players.
The Wildcats, and Wheelwright, will be in action this Thursday when they host the University of Northern Arizona.