Phillip Wheeler is taking the road less traveled.
With alternatives to playing college basketball becoming seemingly more apparent and explored than ever before, Wheeler is following the footsteps of many other basketball players before him that will go play overseas rather than spend time in the NCAA.
However, unlike a vast majority of those players that went elsewhere, Wheeler will be doing it with just three years of high school hoops of high school experience. According to Adam Zagoria’s ZAGSBLOG, he will be forgoing his final year of high school in order to sign with the Stellazzurra Basketball Academy in Italy.
Here’s the Instagram post from Phillip Wheeler’s agent on his plan to sign with an Italian youth team. Wheeler did not have the grades for college and they felt this was the best route for him. pic.twitter.com/Zup9wjNKJl— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) August 7, 2019
Wheeler had offers from Richmond and Big East schools Providence, St. John’s, and Seton Hall. Due to the fact that he will be signing a professional contract, he won’t be eligible to play in college. However, he does hope to eventually return to the United States and play in the NBA.
It appeared that Wheeler was going to transfer to The Patrick School (N.J.) for this upcoming year, but news of the signed contract came shortly after the move was finalized.
The 17-year old heads to Italy after a solid junior year with New Jersey powerhouse Ranney School.
This past season, he played alongside the 5-star tandem of Scottie Lewis (Florida) and Bryan Antoine (Villanova). Despite the star power on the team, Wheeler managed to carve out a niche for himself. In 20 games of action with Ranney, Wheeler averaged 10.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
He scored 14 points in the Panthers’ New Jersey Tournament of Champions title game, being one of four Ranney players to hit the double-digit mark. He was a dependable contributor on a team that was named New Jersey’s Team of the Year. Ranney won the Non-Public state championship and Tournament of Champions.