Wessons hone talents under trainer's watchful eye
Seven rows of red, plastic seats line the west wall of the gymnasium at the Woodward Park Community Center on the North Side. It’s a mostly standard court, boasting one scoreboard, six baskets and a Columbus Recreation and Parks logo at halfcourt and framed by white and blue concrete blocks.
In that regard, it’s not much different from dozens of similar facilities spread across the region. But when Ohio State teammates Andre and Kaleb Wesson talk about approaching their third season playing together at their father’s alma mater as a “dream come true,” it was at Woodward that those fantasies turned into reality under the watchful eye of trainer Renny Tyson.
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It has been eight years since the Columbus native started his workouts with the Wesson brothers. Kaleb was in seventh grade, Andre was in eighth grade and they were all part of an AAU program called the Columbus Mustang Ballers.
“It’s amazing because when you first get them, they’re just so raw,” Tyson said recently while standing in the gym. “When Kaleb was (first) in here, that boy was huge. We had to do extra sprints and things of that nature, but you could see the little glimpses of greatness inside of him. The same with Andre. When they turn it on, they turn it on.”
Tyson is the program director for Intense Basketball Training, an organization that primarily relies on word of mouth for publicity. The same gym that has seen the Wesson brothers develop has also occasionally hosted the likes of current NBA and college standouts Caris LeVert, Nick Ward, Seth Towns and Matthew Moyer, among many others.
Now Kaleb and Andre, next in the line of central Ohio stars, are on the verge of what will be their final season as Buckeyes teammates. They even shared the regional cover of Street & Smith’s preview issue.
“That’s something we talked about, being on magazine covers, being the face of the program,” Kaleb said. “That’s something we talked about when we were younger. Dreams turned to reality now and it just feels like everything’s coming to a head. Our hard work is paying off, but there’s still work we’ve got to do.”
Much of that will take place at Value City Arena, but it will continue at a gym 10 miles to the northeast, as it always has. Even on off days during the season, Tyson said, the Wessons meet him for workouts.
That's how Andre, who has been described by coach Chris Holtmann as Ohio State’s most efficient shooter this preseason, has grown his offensive game and worked on his aggressiveness. It’s where Tyson saw Kaleb, who wasn’t able to get through the first workout they did eight years ago, shed more than 30 pounds before the start of the summer to better prepare himself to dominate at the college level.
“They definitely develop differently,” Tyson said. “For Kaleb, he had to go from being a straight post player to now he’s got to step out and hit a jump shot. Dre was more working on attacking the rim and finishing with contact and also now he’s doing dribble moves into pull-ups. Now he might do a jab step and one-dribble pull-up. Now he’s doing Euro steps. His game has come full circle now because he’s adding everything into it.”
The Wessons have always been close, encouraged by parents Keith and Stephanie. They had a simple message for Kaleb: Follow your older brother. And he did, from Woodward to Westerville South to Ohio State.
Now they are poised for big things. Four years ago, the Wessons led Westerville South to a state title in Andre’s senior season. Reflecting on the journey, Tyson sees similar potential this year.
“You’re going to be seeing something big-time,” Tyson said. “This is the year. I have a great feeling that they’re going to do something special at Ohio State this year. They want to win a Big Ten championship, No. 1, and then they want to win an NCAA national title and I think they’re going to do it.”