The only scholarship senior on the Ohio State men's basketball team was injured during a win over Cincinnati on Wednesday when a teammate inadvertently elbowed him in the face during a scrum for a rebound.
It wasn’t the first time that Chris Holtmann had gone out to check on an injured Andre Wesson. A hard-nosed senior on the Ohio State men’s basketball team, Wesson is constantly coming up with nicks and bruises in practice and games as he throws around his 6-foot-6, 220-pound frame.
Wednesday night, though, was entirely different. As Wesson crouched near his team’s free-throw line in the final moments of a 64-56 season-opening win against Cincinnati, Holtmann quickly came to his aid and realized this had a bad vibe.
“We knew this (time), as soon we went out on the floor (was different),” Holtmann said Friday afternoon. “I thought he had gotten poked because he kept saying, ‘My eye, my eye.’ I knew this one was probably going to keep him out for a little bit.”
After taking an inadvertent elbow to the face from teammate CJ Walker, Wesson suffered what The Dispatch has learned is a fractured right eye socket that is expected to sideline him for two weeks. Holtmann did not want to confirm the specifics of the injury or the timeline for Wesson’s return other than to say he will miss Sunday’s game against UMass-Lowell.
A two-week layoff would see Wesson miss three games, including Wednesday’s highly anticipated home game against No. 10 Villanova.
“I don’t want to get into specifics, but Andre continues to be evaluated by our medical staff regarding his eye injury from the other night,” Holtmann said. “He took a pretty good hit. … Obviously it’s a significant loss for our team here for him not to be able to play in games, but we’ll see where it goes after Sunday.”
The loss thins the Buckeyes at an injury-affected position. Another player poised for important minutes at small forward, junior Musa Jallow, has missed more than three weeks and remains in a walking boot with a right ankle injury. His status going forward is unknown, but he is also out for Sunday’s game.
Holtmann could lean heavily on three-guard lineups against the River Hawks. Against the Bearcats, Ohio State used three different three-guard lineups, totaling 6:11 of playing time.
Holtmann will almost certainly have to look to sophomore Justin Ahrens, who missed much of the summer with a back injury, and freshman Alonzo Gaffney, who did not play against Cincinnati, to assume some of Wesson’s responsibilities.
“I know Zo and I think he took a real mature way about it,” freshman D.J. Carton said of his roommate’s reaction to being an unused substitute in the opener. “I think Zo’s ready for this step. He’s put a lot into it. He’s grown physically and mentally in the game. I think he’s ready to step up. I’m excited for him. Hopefully he can produce in this upcoming game.”
Wesson is the lone scholarship senior on the team.
“He brings so much to the team, whether it’s defensively, offensively, talking,” said junior guard CJ Walker, a Florida State transfer and one of the team’s de facto captains. “For myself, I’m going to have to step up more vocally and make plays I wouldn’t have to make it Dre was in there.”
Holtmann wasn’t tipping his hand as to how he might fill out his lineup, but he did say multiple players will have to be ready to handle bigger roles for however long Wesson is out. And make no mistake about it: This is a loss that the Buckeyes will feel keenly, particularly on the defensive end.
“We’ll need to be better in other areas and be better quickly and it will give other guys an opportunity,” Holtmann said. “We’ll have to play through some mistakes that are inevitably going to happen but it certainly impacts our team in a significant way. My overriding thing as much as anything is I’m disappointed for Andre.”