Ohio State men's basketball spotlight: Andre Wesson
Ohio State will open its 2018-19 men's basketball season by playing its first game at Cincinnati in 98 years. The Buckeyes and Bearcats will meet at the newly renovated Fifth Third Arena on Nov. 7, marking only the 11th time the in-state programs have met and the first time they’ve played each other within state lines since 1921. In preparation for the game, The Dispatch is counting down the final 14 days with power rankings for each of the members of the Ohio State roster. The series continues with the 11th player in our rankings.
No. 4: Andre Wesson
Height/weight: 6 feet 6 / 220 pounds
Jersey number: 24
Background: A local product and the son of an Ohio State alumnus, Andre Wesson helped lead Westerville South to the 2016 Division I state championship. In the process, Wesson earned a scholarship offer from the Buckeyes. He was a three-star prospect in the class of 2016, the No. 17 prospect from Ohio, the No. 54 small forward in the nation and overall No. 274 recruit. As a high school senior, he was named conference player of the year and second-team all-state after averaging 17 points, six rebounds and three assists. His father, Keith, played in 115 games for the Buckeyes from 1983-87 and his younger brother, Kaleb, is a sophomore on the roster.
2017-18 stats: In 34 games including five starts, Wesson averaged 2.9 points and 1.8 rebounds in 18.5 minutes per game. In the final 17 games of the season, however, he averaged 23.8 minutes per game.
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Need to know: In a poll of returning players, Wesson received a vote for the best-dressed member of the team. He’s not a fan of social media. “I’ve never been the type of guy to get into all that social media stuff. People keep telling me to get one so maybe one day it’ll happen but I don’t see it anytime soon. I have SnapChat. That’s about the only thing I have. I’ve never really tried any social media.” During the team’s three-game exhibition trip to Spain, Wesson had 23 points, 16 rebounds, six steals and six assists. Wesson picked his jersey number as an homage to Kobe Bryant because he committed to the Buckeyes on April 13, which is known as “Mamba Day” in homage to the Lakers star. He’s the team’s self-proclaimed best player at Madden.
Career stats: Wesson has played in 63 games for the Buckeyes, averaging 2.6 points and 1.6 rebounds per game. He’s a career 37.4 percent shooter (52 for 139) and 31.2 percent from three (29 for 93). Wesson is among Ohio State’s most versatile defenders.
2017-18 recap: Wesson missed the entirety of the summer after his freshman season due to a health condition, which helped limit him early in the season. As he built up more stamina, his ability to defend helped him carve out a significant role as Big Ten season kicked into gear. His breakout game came Feb. 7 at Purdue in a 64-63 win. Wesson played a career-high 36 minutes in the game and helped shut down 7-foot center Isaac Haas during the second half. It was one of five games Wesson started, a stretch that began when senior guard Kam Williams was suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules.
2018-19 outlook: This could be a big year for Wesson. His defensive responsibilities aren’t expected to change much, but his offensive role will need to dramatically increase if the Buckeyes are to return to the NCAA Tournament. His primary offseason focus was to improve his shooting and his playmaking ability, but it is not going to be a smooth transition to offensive focal point. After having three assists and no turnovers in the team’s win against Xavier in an Oct. 27 closed scrimmage, he had four turnovers and only two assists in the public exhibition win against UNC Pembroke on Nov. 1. Asking him to increase his scoring three- or four-fold might be a stretch, but coach Chris Holtmann is expecting more from him. “If we’re going to be a good team, he’s going to need to be able to be a guy who can at times for us certainly be a double-figure scorer,” Holtmann said. “I think he’s capable of that. Andre’s also a guy who his value is not just in scoring the ball by any stretch. He really does add value to winning possessions in other areas.”
Previous power rankings
No. 5: Luther Muhammad
No. 6: Kyle Young
No. 7: Duane Washington Jr.
No. 8: Musa Jallow
No. 9: Micah Potter
No. 10: Jaedon LeDee
No. 11: Justin Ahrens
No. 12: Joey Lane
No. 13: Danny Hummer
No. 14: CJ Walker