Braun Adds Wheeler to Coaching Staff

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Cal head men's basketball coach Ben Braun announced yesterday that Jon Wheeler, a former Bears forward and assistant coach, will join the program as one of the team's three assistant coaches.

Wheeler joins Charles Ramsey and Louis Reynaud as assistants following the departure of former associate head coach Scott Beeten. Wheeler comes to Cal after four years as an assistant coach at UC Santa Barbara.

"I feel Jon really brings energy to our staff," Braun said. " I think one of his greatest assets is that he is team player. He's obviously very loyal and excited about Cal."

Wheeler's commitment to the program stems from his playing days at Cal, where he started as a forward from1985-87. During his senior year, Wheeler averaged 8.4 points per game and helped lead the Bears to the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament in '87.

After graduating from Cal, Wheeler played professionally in Europe before beginning his coaching career.

"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. I've followed (the program) pretty closely, being an alum, and he's been very impressive."

Braun recognized Wheeler's talents as a multifaceted coach and looks forward to having him contribute in all areas of the Bears program.

"I think I felt that he was somebody who can do many things, not just one thing," Braun said. "That was one of the criteria I had, I didn't want somebody who could just recruit, or just coach or just advise."

While at UCSB, Wheeler took an active role in recruiting and worked with the team as an academic advisor. He was also responsible for the development of the Gauchos' post players.

Prior to his time with the Gauchos, Wheeler served as an assistant at Pepperdine from 1995-96. He was head assistant at UC Davis from 1992-95, and also served as an assistant at Cal under Lou Campanelli from 1989-92.

Wheeler began his career as a player at St. Mary's and transferred to Cal in 1985.

"For some coaches, the fact that Jon played at Cal would be enough to hire him," Braun said. "But there are a lot players that played here that wouldn't make ideal coaches. Jon is somebody who wants to coach and has shown that he is very capable in that position."

Although Wheeler comes to Cal immediately after Beeten's departure, Braun said that Wheeler is not directly stepping into Beeten's shoes.

Braun wants to take a slightly different approach to his coaching staff this year. Rather than designating a associate head coach, Braun wants to concentrate on spreading out coaching duties and keeping everyone actively involved in player development, advising and recruiting.

"We really haven't classified an associate head coach," Braun said. "Jon will be joining our staff and assisting in many duties that we have. He won't be directly replacing Scott Beeten."

Perhaps one of Wheeler's most attractive attributes for Braun was his desire to work with the Bears program. Not only did Wheeler keep in touch with Cal throughout his coaching tenures at other schools, but also made a point to retain his exuberance for the Bears program.

"We tell players when we recruit them that we only want players who want to be here," Braun said. "It's the same way with coaching. We only want coaches who show a strong urge to work with our program. Jon's kept in touch with us and our coaching staff and most importantly, I don't think Jon's ever lost his Cal fever."


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