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SoCalHoops College & Recruiting News

Cal Berkeley Announces Hiring
Of UCSB's Jon Wheeler--(Sept. 2, 2000)

This is our day to post stories about the coaches. We received the news about the hiring of a new men's assistant this last week (in fact before it had been officially announced, but we were sworn to secrecy until it was publicly announced),  but now that Cal has issued the official press release on the subject, we wanted to pass the info along. UCSB will be looking for a new men's assistant coach now that Jon Wheeler has returned to his alma mater, having been hired at Cal to replace Scott Beeton, who took the head coaching job at SUNY-Albany, a first year D-I program.  Here's the official press release about Jon issued by Cal's Athletics office last Thursday:

Jon Wheeler New Men's Assistant Basketball Coach
Former Cal forward joins Golden Bear staff.

Aug. 31, 2000

s-wheeler-lg.jpg (12891 bytes)BERKELEY - Jon Wheeler, a former Cal forward who later served as an assistant coach for the Bears, has re-joined the program as an assistant coach, head coach Ben Braun announced Thursday. 

Wheeler fills the vacancy created when Scott Beeten accepted the head position at the University at Albany earlier this month. His hiring completes the Cal staff, which also includes assistant coaches Charles Ramsey and Louis Reynaud. 

"We're excited to add Jon Wheeler to our coaching staff," Braun said. "I think Jon brings a number of things to our program. He's been very active and very successful in the state of California. With the number of big guys we have in our program, he's a good fit to work with some of our young players. I think he's a good model for our team." 

Wheeler returns to Cal with an extensive coaching background that has taken him throughout the state. Most recently, he spent the past four years as an assistant at UC Santa Barbara, serving as recruiting and academic coordinator and working with the Gaucho post players. 

Prior to moving to Santa Barbara, Wheeler was an assistant at Pepperdine for one season in 1995-96, and he served as head assistant at UC Davis from 1992-95. 

Wheeler's affiliation with the Bears began when he transferred to Cal from St. Mary's after his sophomore season with the Gaels. A two-year starter as a 6-7 forward, Wheeler averaged 8.4 points per game as a senior, helping the Bears to
the quarterfinals of the 1987 NIT.  Following graduation, he played professional basketball in France and with an  Australian-based team, the Illawarra Hawks. He came back to Cal as an assistant under Lou Campanelli from 1989-92. 

"It feels great to be coming home," Wheeler said. "This is obviously a great opportunity for me to work with a quality coach like Coach Braun. Although it was tough leaving UCSB, this is a tremendous opportunity for me. I've known Coach Braun the last couple of years, and I have a lot of respect for what he's done for the Cal program. I've followed it pretty closely, being an alum, and he's been very impressive." 

Wheeler received his bachelor's degree from Cal in social science in 1987, and he earned a master's degree in athletic administration from St. Mary's in 1993.

The same day that Cal issued their press release (above) UCSB issued their own release announcing Wheeler's move:

Men's Basketball Assistant Jon Wheeler Resigns, Will Take Similar Position At Cal
Four-year veteran of the Gaucho coaching staff will return to his alma mater as assistant coach.

Aug. 31, 2000

Santa Barbara, Calif. - Jon Wheeler, an assistant basketball coach in the UC Santa Barbara men's program for the past four years, has resigned to accept a similar position at his alma mater, Cal-Berkeley, head coach Bob Williams announced today.

Wheeler, who came to UCSB in 1996 under then-head coach Jerry Pimm, was the veteran of the Gaucho staff. Prior to his arrival in Santa Barbara, he spent one season as an assistant coach at Pepperdine, three years as an assistant at UC Davis and three years as a graduate assistant at Cal. While he was at UC Davis, he also assisted Bob Williams.

"Jon did an outstanding job for UC Santa Barbara in the time that I have been here," Williams commented. "I feel that this staff has had great chemistry and has really helped get the Gaucho program back on track. Jon was a big part of that. He will do a great job for Coach (Ben) Braun at Cal and he will be missed here."

At UCSB, Wheeler worked primarily with the post players and recruited. He has been instrumental in the development of such players as B.J. Bunton, Josh Merrill and Adama Ndiaye, three of the Big West Conference's top big men the past two seasons.

The loss of Wheeler leaves the Gauchos with two returning coaches, Williams and assistant coach Marty Wilson. Mark Amaral, who had been the head coach at Peninsula Junior College in Washington, joined the staff on August 1, replacing Greg Clink who left after two years to become the top assistant coach at UC Davis. Williams hopes to fill the final position on his staff within the next couple of weeks. 

There's also been more than a little speculation that one of the things Wheeler might help bring to Cal is Dommanic Ingerson, who has been very actively recruited by the coaches at Berkeley, and who has been getting more than a few calls from some of the Cal players.  Dommanic is from Oakland, but spent last season at Santa Barbara HS.  We won't offer our own speculation about whether Ingerson will or won't go to Cal, but there are quite a few other programs in the mix, including UConn, Michigan and Georgia Tech who are probably considered to be the leaders right now.  Wheeler is an astute recruiter and a great judge of talent who has helped the Gauchos attract some of their most talented recruits in recent years.   Time will tell if he can do the same thing for the Bears.

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