Women’s Basketball Star Savannah Wheeler to Transfer


Zachary Hiser | The Parthenon

Sophomore guard Savannah Wheeler dribbles beyond the three-point line against Old Dominion on Feb. 5 2021.

Tyler Kennett, Sports Editor

When Marshall women’s basketball fell in the Conference USA tournament a couple of weeks ago, a few questions likely began to loom over the head of head coach Tony Kemper.  

Aaliyah Dunham had just scored 20 points. Brianah Ferby had scored 8. Kennedi Colclough led all starters in rebounds. With each of them graduating, Kemper was left with a normal offseason workload: fill in the holes, some bigger than others.  

However, with an announcement that Savannah Wheeler, Conference USA’s leading scorer, will be transferring, Kemper is left with a crater. 

Wheeler’s career can best be summarized by her ability to keep the record keepers’ pens busy. In three seasons with Marshall, including a season cut short by the pandemic and another shortened to less than 20 games, Wheeler was ninth in total points scored in a Marshall uniform. 

 If given the ability to those 15 games lost to COVID, there is a chance that Wheeler would have ranked in the top five were she to score 200 points in those games, an average of 13 points per game. Of course, we’ll never know if Wheeler could have crossed the 2000 point mark, a number reached by only three players in program history, but she was on track.  

Wheeler was named to the All-Conference first-team this season after being a potent offensive force that regularly carried the Herd to victory. With multiple 30-point games and one of the six 40-point games in Marshall history all occurring this season, Wheeler will make an immediate scoring impact for any team that takes a chance on her in the transfer portal. 

In what will likely be Marshall’s last season in Conference USA, Wheeler will go down alongside names such as Shayna Gore, Taylor Porter, CJ Burks and Jon Elmore as the greatest scoring talents to play in the C-USA era. She was honored as an All-Conference USA player in all three seasons, including a second-team nod as a freshman.  

It is not unreasonable to expect Marshall to potentially rebuild through the transfer portal despite losing such a strong talent to it. This season, Aaliyah Dunham became a routine 20-point scorer as a transfer from Xavier. In the season prior, Kennedi Colclough quickly became an impact player as a transfer from Stetson. While Wheeler was a “home-grown” player from Boyd County, Kentucky, the transfer portal has quickly become one of the best ways to expand and grow a team in the modern era of collegiate basketball. 

It is a lofty task to presume that Marshall can replace a scorer like Wheeler, but the framework within the team can be seen in CC Mays. As Marshall’s highest returning scorer, Mays has showcased her ability to shoot the three at a high clip, including a perfect showing from deep against FIU this season.  

For the Herd’s future, the impending arrival to the Sun Belt will allow the opportunity for the Herd to find its footing. Coach Kemper will presumably enter his sixth season as head coach, entering a conference led by Troy and UT Arlington, the teams that won the regular season and conference tournaments respectively. For a March-themed reference, the SBC winner in UT Arlington entered the NCAA tournament as a 14 seed, equal to Conference USA’s winner, Charlotte.