“I am excited about the opportunity to coach in the Sun Belt Conference at a program that has the kind of support in the community and with its fans that ULM does,” Wheeler said. “Coach Schexnaider and the rest of the staff have done a great job putting this program in a situation to win in a strong conference. I just hope that I can do my small part.”
Wheeler, who just completed his fourth season at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn., groomed Rex Brothers into one of the top pitchers in the nation. Brothers was the 34th overall pick in the 2009 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft, going to the Colorado Rockies in the supplemental round held at the end of the first round.
“I would like to take the credit for him,” Wheeler said. “However, good players make good coaches.”
Under his guidance, the Bisons’ pitching staff either led or was ranked among the top three in numerous pitching categories in the Atlantic Sun in his final three seasons.
“We feel fortunate that Lantz wants to continue his coaching career at ULM,” Schexnaider said. “He brings with him NCAA Tournament experience and a proven track record as a quality recruiter. Lantz is very good at recognizing talent and more importantly developing the talent once they get here, none more obvious than Rex Brothers.”
In his final season at Lipscomb, the Bisons had a staff ERA of 4.68 during conference play – nearly two runs below the league average (6.40). Lipscomb also posted the third most strikeouts and allowed opponents to hit just .260. The 11-team league combined to hit .311 during league play with nine teams hitting .299 or better.
Brothers finished the season with an Atlantic Sun-leading 132 strikeouts in just 94.0 innings of work. His total was fifth best in the nation in 2009 and eighth best in A-Sun history.
“He is very loyal and an extremely hard worker,” Schexnaider said. “We feel he is one of the top pitching coaches in the country. More importantly he is a good person and role model for our student-athletes. Lantz is a guy that our community will embrace and he will be a good ambassador for our University. We are very excited for him to get here and get to work.”
With Wheeler coaching the Lipscomb pitchers, the Bisons made their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2008 after capturing the Atlantic Sun Tournament championship. The Bisons sent shockwaves through the baseball nation defeating eventual runner-up Georgia 10-7 in the opening round of the Regionals.
In just his second season at Lipscomb (2007), Wheeler had the Bisons ranked in the top 50 in the NCAA with a staff ERA of 4.24. Brothers was named the Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year and the Bisons stunned LSU during a regular season game in Baton Rouge, La.
During his first two seasons, Lipscomb had a league-best seven Pitcher of the Week honors.
Prior to joining the Lipscomb coaching staff, Wheeler served as the pitching coach at St. Catherine College, a junior college in St. Catherine, Ky., from 2003-2005. His pitching staffs posted the lowest ERA in NJCAA Division II in 2004 and 2005 and had a combined record of 87-18.
He played for both Paducah Community College in Paducah, Ky., and Morehead State University in Morehead, Ky. He graduated from Morehead State with a bachelor’s of science degree in exercise science in 1998.
Wheeler is married to the former Mandy Thiron. The couple has two daughters, Riley (10) and Reagann (10 months).