The mementos of an Ohio State basketball career weren’t plastered on the walls of the Wesson household. Those earned by Keith Wesson during his playing career were primarily confined to his mother’s house, where sons Andre and Kaleb could see them if they so desired.
It’s not as if his time at Ohio State, where he played from 1983-87, wasn’t important to Keith Wesson as he was raising two athletic sons with his wife, Stephanie. It was that he had a more important lesson he wanted them to learn from their dad.
"For me, it’s never really been about me telling them what happened with me and the experience I had," Keith told The Dispatch. "I always just stress that they have an experience. I want them to experience every arena they go to, every crowd, every game."
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Both brothers followed in their father’s footsteps, where they have helped Ohio State position itself for a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance under coach Chris Holtmann. Although it was something Keith Wesson said he has been thrilled to watch unfold, it wasn’t necessarily the plan to see them carry the family name from Westerville down the road to Ohio State.
Younger brother Kaleb actually went first, committing to the Buckeyes during the summer of 2015 after his sophomore season at Westerville South. Andre followed suit after the two led the Wildcats to the 2016 Division I state championship and, in the process, Andre earned a scholarship offer and the chance to join his brother.
When Kaleb got to campus, he opted to wear No. 34 because his dad had worn No. 43 not that he talked much about it.
"What’s kind of crazy is that when we talk to my dad it’s mostly about things off the floor, things that he just wants to teach us about how to be good young men, not just good basketball players," Kaleb said. "Most of the things are, ‘What are you doing off of the floor to become a better man?’ It’s not, ‘How many hours did you put in at the gym this week? How many shots did you put up?’ It’s, ‘How is school going? Why is that grade that grade?’ "
While Keith Wesson enjoyed teaching the game and the love of sports to his sons, he did so without focusing on his specific experiences. That carried over to their college choices, ones Keith said he wanted them to make for their own reasons, not his.
Then when they both signed up to be Buckeyes, well, it meant a lot to dad.
"There’s nothing I could do to deserve the opportunity to watch both of them play and both of them make the decision to go to Ohio State," he said. "It’s really just God’s favor. Nobody deserves it. Words can’t describe it. Andre and Kaleb, they’ve given me more proud moments than any father deserves."
Both Wesson parents are staples at Ohio State games. At road games, Keith said he encourages his sons to use all their senses upon entering the arena look around, appreciate the crowd, remember what the moment sounds and even smells like. He encourages them to take selfies and collects videos and photos of them taking the court or being around teammates in the locker room to save for when they’re older.
"For my dad to be at all the games has been special," said Andre, who said he had some Ohio State paraphernalia on his walls as a child. "To make him proud is one of the biggest accomplishments of my life, for sure."
The brothers’ college journey is nearing its end. The whole family was present Thursday for Senior Day, when Andre was presented with a framed jersey and recognized before and after the win against Illinois, his final game at Value City Arena. It could have been the last Ohio State home game for Kaleb, a junior who has played his way into NBA mock draft projections and Monday earned second-team all-Big Ten honors.
Along the way, mom and dad have been there at nearly every game, home or away. If both brothers are playing professionally next season, Keith said, it might be time for him to finally pick up a hobby or take a vacation. Then he offered one of those chuckles you’ll certainly hear if you spend more than a few minutes talking with him about his family.
"God willing, both of them are good enough to play somewhere in the world," he said. "If nothing else, I’m going to be broker, trying to go watch them play. At some point, it’s all going to stop. I’ll tell you, it’s going to be a void that’s going to be very hard to fill."