Sophomore center Kaleb Wesson will miss a second game to suspension when Ohio State plays Wednesday night at Northwestern, coach Chris Holtmann said Tuesday afternoon.
Wesson, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, was suspended from the team Friday for an unspecified violation of athletic department policy. An end date for the suspension has not been announced, but the official press release stated that Wesson will return by the end of this season.
“I don’t want to put a specific timeline on it right now,” Holtmann said Tuesday. “He’s with us every day. He’s involved in everything that we do. He’s around us.”
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Wesson made the trip to Purdue with the Buckeyes during the weekend and had a front-row seat from the bench as they took a 35-point loss to the Boilermakers, their worst loss in three years. On the ESPN broadcast, analyst Dan Dakich questioned why Wesson was allowed to travel with the team after putting them in a tough spot.
Holtmann defended the decision.
“One, it was a weekend game,” he said. “I just think we want him around our team right now. He’s not been kicked off the team. People can have their opinions on how to handle that. That’s how I chose to handle it.”
His absence, coupled with an ongoing injury situation with sophomore Kyle Young, led the Buckeyes to start three freshmen against Purdue. Jaedon LeDee replaced Wesson and scored 16 points.
Andre Wesson, Kaleb’s older brother, said his brother’s presence was a positive for the Buckeyes.
“Keeping him around, it’s a big thing for us,” he said. “Having him there and giving us little snippets during timeouts (helps so that) when he is able to come back, he’s always been there with us.”
The older Wesson brother said the situation hasn’t been particularly hard on him, adding that the entire team has worked to support the sophomore during his suspension.
>> Read more: Chris Holtmann talks about Kaleb Wesson, Kyle Young and more on his radio show
Andre Wesson said he doesn’t know when his brother will return. Holtmann didn’t offer specifics on a timeline either but said it’s not his decision alone.
“It’s not really something I’d like to discuss right now,” he said. “I think trying to keep that in-house as much as possible. We’re trying to take it day-by-day and I’m looking at it day by day and I’m also being advised on what to do by people above me.”
Holtmann said when the news was announced that Wesson would have to meet certain criteria in order to return. On Tuesday, he said Wesson has been doing that.
Wesson’s absence has put the Buckeyes in a tough spot, coming with three games remaining in the regular season and their NCAA Tournament hopes undetermined. The announcement was made three days after a 20-point win against No. 22 Iowa, a victory that seemed to inject the Buckeyes with new life after what had been some tough times in Big Ten play.
In 24 games this season, including 23 starts, Wesson has averaged 14.6 points and 6.7 rebounds. This is the second suspension of his career after he was suspended for one game as a freshman for being late to team meetings.
In their initial meeting about this year’s news, Holtmann said he expressed his disappointment with Wesson.
“Obviously, he’s a part of our family,” the coach said. “We don’t use that term lightly. He’s a young man that we care about and I think when you get into this deal here in terms of coaching and working with 18- to 22-year-olds, you know there’s going to be some learning opportunities along the way. The timing, everybody understands the timing and how difficult the timing is.
“He understood clearly that we were disappointed, that his teammates were disappointed, and I think in some ways that was probably important for him to hear. But as I mentioned, we’re going to move forward here and hope that this is an experience that there’s a lot of growth and learning that could come from it. That’s kind of our message.”