Herd feels like home for Shy, Wheeler
HUNTINGTON — Huntington St. Joe’s Paige Shy and Boyd County’s Savannah Wheeler have built a huge friendship through basketball as members of the West Virginia Thunder AAU program.
Even when the two have met on the court in high school play, there were always smiles and photos following the matchups.
Now, the two best friends could add a new title to their relationship — roommates — if they so choose.
On Wednesday, both players signed National Letters of Intent to play college basketball at Marshall University in separate ceremonies at their respective schools.
“It’s awesome because we’ve always been so close and it makes looking forward to college that much more fun,” Shy said.
″(Paige) is my best friend and we’re so close,” Wheeler said. “We wanted to keep playing with each other for the next four years and that’s what we are going to do.”
Each player will bring a unique dynamic to Marshall’s offensive skill set upon arrival.
Huntington St. Joe coach Shannon Lewis spoke during Shy’s signing ceremony about how AAU coaches around the circuit considered her “one of the nation’s best shooters” and that she brings a 3-point presence to the team immediately. Shy averaged 16.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game last year in the Class A title run for the Irish.
Wheeler has consistently been one of Kentucky’s leading scorers in the last two years, finishing her junior season at 24.7 points per game. Wheeler also averaged 3.2 3-pointers per game, which was second in the state of Kentucky while also connecting on 82 percent of free throw attempts.
Her ability to run an offense as a scoring point guard while facilitating to open shooters is part of what made her one of Kentucky’s premier players.
That offensive chemistry has been built through the West Virginia Thunder AAU program where both were part of a nationally-heralded program, led by Scott Johnson.
“It’s not just on the court, but off the court, too,” Wheeler said. “We’re always there for each other.”
As Boyd County coach Pete Fraley pointed out, part of the success of the West Virginia Thunder program is the family-type atmosphere it incorporates, which both Shy and Wheeler have benefited from and will continue to do so as they play for the faithful at Cam Henderson Center.
“The West Virginia Thunder family, you go up there and there’s ties everywhere in that arena when they play,” Fraley said.
Logan Fraley, Pete Fraley’s daughter, is a senior on Marshall’s women’s basketball team and former Boyd County standout, as well.
As Shy and Wheeler went to Marshall women’s basketball games to support Fraley and other local players, they were able to see the support level they will have, which was a major recruiting coup for the Herd.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling because I’ve dreamed of that ever since I was little,” Shy said. “Being able to play in front of my friends and family, there’s nothing else I’d rather do.”
Before they become teammates, the duo still has a pair of matchups against each other in their final high school season: a Jan. 5 matchup at Boyd County and a Feb. 5 contest at Huntington St. Joe.
After that, the Blue and Gold that Shy dons with the Irish and the Red and White that Wheeler wears with the Lions will start to blend into Kelly green for the future.