OGDEN — “Wheels” has a busted wheel.
Weber State guard Gelaun Wheelwright had surgery Tuesday for a broken foot suffered during a summer workout and will be out of action for approximately eight weeks.
The good news for the Wildcats is that it happened during the summer — the same injury, called a Jones fracture, cost two-time Big Sky Conference MVP Damian Lillard most of the 2010-11 season.
After his recovery, Wheelwright will move from shooting guard to the point guard position to compete for the starting job vacated when Lillard decided to enter the 2012 NBA draft.
The 6-foot-1 sophomore, who originally committed to the University of Southern California out of Centennial High in Corona, Calif., began last season as a redshirt but came off the bench in early December because of injuries. He averaged 5.6 points and 2.1 rebounds per game in 2011-12 and scored a career-high 19 points in WSU’s final game of the season, an overtime loss to Loyola Marymount in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
WSU basketball coach Randy Rahe confirmed Wheelwright’s injury to the Standard-Examiner on Wednesday and said the surgery was successful.
“Our hope is (for Wheelwright to return to playing) by the start of fall camp; the end of August, start of September,” Rahe said. “It’s unfortunate for Gelaun because he was looking forward to a great summer.”
Wheelwright said the injury took place two and a half weeks ago when he was working out at home in California, but he was still able to walk and didn’t know it was broken for sure until he returned to Ogden for X-rays a week later.
“I made a move, planted the wrong way and heard a little pop in my foot,” Wheelwright said.
Knowing Lillard was able to return from a Jones fracture to become a potential NBA lottery pick gives Wheelwright confidence in his ability to recover.
His injury is not as bad as Lillard’s break was, Wheelwright said, but Lillard told him to call him after the surgery.
“He told me the workouts he did. I’m going to get in touch with him in a couple of days and find out everything he did,” Wheelwright said. “Finding out it was the same thing Damian had and seeing what he did, how explosive he was (after recovery), if I put in the same work he did then I can come back the way he did.”
Wheelwright said the transition to point guard from shooting guard is a significant change for him, but he was starting to feel at ease there in pickup games before the injury.
“I like having the ball in my hands and making decisions, especially late in games, so I’ll be pretty comfortable there during the season,” he said.
Defending the NBA-bound Lillard and being guarded by him at the point guard spot in those pickup games also gave Wheelwright another boost of confidence.
“I’m pretty sure I’m not going to play against (another) lottery pick this year,” he said.