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    Saturday, October 01, 2022

    Ex-New London great Tyson Wheeler excited about next stop on his coaching journey at Brown

    In this December 2016 file photo, then-Fairfield University assistant basketball coach Tyson Wheeler celebrates with Amadou Sidibe (21) as the Stags defeat Boston College in the Basketball Hall of Fame 125th Birthday of Basketball tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena. Wheeler, the ex-New London HIgh School great, recently accepted an assistant coaching position at Brown University in Providence. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Tyson Wheeler must be doing something right, otherwise he might be still searching for a college basketball coaching job.

    For the second time in his coaching career, Wheeler found himself unemployed, this time after UMass head coach Matt McCall was fired in March.

    Thanks in part to his stellar reputation and experience as an assistant coach, Wheeler wasn’t jobless for long.

    Brown University coach Mike Martin hired Wheeler, the former New London High School and Rhode Island great, to join his staff as an assistant coach.

    Wheeler is back to doing what he loves.

    “That’s part of the profession,” said Wheeler about the job turnover. “It is (nerve-racking). You don’t know when your next job will be available or come to you. I’m fortunate to know a lot of coaches in this profession. I think I have a pretty good reputation.”

    “... Something must be working right for me. I think I’ve worked under some great people and learned a lot. I’m excited to be back in Rhode Island and staying in New England. And I’m interested to see how we do this year.”

    His strong connections helped Wheeler land the Brown job.

    He’s known Martin for a long time and played against Martin’s cousin during his high school days.

    When Brown assistant Antone Gray left, Martin’s associate head coach T.J. Sorrentine reached out to Wheeler about the opening right before Final Four weekend in early April.

    After interviewing with Martin, Wheeler was added to the staff.

    “I love what Mike does, how he runs the program, how good and successful they’ve been, so I just wanted to be a part of that,” Wheeler said.

    Martin also is a big fan of Wheeler’s.

    “Tyson Wheeler is an outstanding basketball coach who has also proven himself as a player at the very highest level and, most importantly, is a fantastic person,” Martin said in a release. “He brings tremendous experience as a college coach for the past 13 years. … He’s worked for excellent coaches and will enhance our program in every aspect.”

    As an added bonus, Wheeler will continue to live in Norwich. And his commute will be about 30 minutes shorter than when he worked at UMass for three seasons. Before that, he spent eight years at Fairfield.

    Brown is a different coaching world for Wheeler. A member of the Ivy League, Brown offers no athletic scholarships.

    He’s embracing the new experience.

    “It was a new challenge for me to see if I could be successful in recruiting in the Ivy League, talking to a different type of kid...,” Wheeler said. “The beauty is I can recruit all over the country because it is the Ivy League and it has that history.”

    Wheeler has received quite an education during his career, gaining knowledge and wisdom from playing for Al Skinner at Rhode Island and working for Ed Cooley and Sydney Johnson at Fairfield and McCall at UMass.

    “Every time you work for a new coach, you pick up new ideas,” Wheeler said. “I’m a life-long learner and I want to experience different philosophies from different head coaches. … Every year and every experience I’m learning new things to prepare me for the future.”

    Martin, a former Brown player, has elevated the program since taking over in 2012. Prior to being a head coach, he also was on Glen Miller’s staff as an assistant at Brown (2005-06) and Penn (2006-07).

    Wheeler’s cousin, Dwayne Stallings, played for Miller, a Fitch graduate, at Connecticut College.

    “Gotta have those ties, I guess,” Wheeler said. “It’s funny how things come full circle.”

    The Bears only lost two players to graduation from a team that went 13-16 last season and lost by seven at NCAA finalist North Carolina.

    ‘We have really good young players and have really good freshmen coming in,” Wheeler said.

    Wheeler is enjoying a brief break before school begins, spending time with family and watching his two sons play summer league basketball.

    He found a DVD in his basement of Conn College summer league highlights from around 1997 and 1998.

    “I’m trying to figure out how to transfer them to my computer or hard drive, so I can put those up. Me and Ray Allen were on the same team. Vin Baker was playing and Kevin Freeman, Ed Cota and Travis Knight. Marcus Camby came through.

    “So, I’ve got all those highlights that I’ve got to put together and send them out to all my boys so they can send them to their boys and be like, `I told you I was good.’ I got Pete Gittens on there dunking everything. I’m sure he wants to see that because he probably can’t even touch the net now.”

    g.keefe@theday.com

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