Ohio State's Andre Wesson shows toughness in coming back from injury
The next time Ohio State decides to update the court at Value City Arena, Andre Wesson has a suggestion.
Ten games into his junior year, Wesson went full extension a few moments into the second half against Bucknell and had an inadvertent elbow drive him face-first into the court. When Chris Holtmann came out to check on him, the coach said he heard the crunch from having stepped on one of Wesson's two front teeth that had been knocked out.
He would return in that game, like the tough-nosed Wesson has done throughout his career. It wasn't until the first game of his senior season that he suffered an injury that would sideline him for multiple games, and it came from a teammate when CJ Walker's inadvertent elbow delivered Wesson a fractured right eye socket.
It came in nearly the same spot on Ohio State's home court.
“They said they're about to put a big 'X' on that part of the floor for me,” Wesson said Thursday afternoon. “Just walk around it, move around it. That spot's got me a few times.”
That Wesson could joke about the situation was the latest sign of improvement from the team's lone scholarship senior. He had to watch the Buckeyes finish off Cincinnati and then beat UMass Lowell and No. 10 Villanova while fighting off swelling and double vision with a reddened right eye that has remained more than two weeks later.
He'll be in action Friday night when the Buckeyes host Purdue Fort Wayne, working on getting back to the rhythm of the season after playing 21 minutes in Monday's win against Stetson.
“I'm feeling better, definitely compared to where I was,” he said. “It's definitely been a little rough, but my guys have been handling business so that's a good thing. That's what I'm happy about. Hopefully moving forward, it'll just continue to get better.”
Wesson isn't the only ailing Buckeye. Holtmann didn't want to divulge specifics but said three or four players could be questionable for the game against the Mastodons after a flu bug has affected the team, and a few practice injuries have piled up.
“It's probably more (early-season injuries) than we've had in the past, but some of that is a byproduct of having a younger team and some of that is freakish things,” Holtmann said. “(Andre) is one of the toughest kids I've ever coached, for sure. I'd put him easily top-five kids. He just manages injuries, and he plays in a really physical way.”
It's a style that has impressed the likes of sophomore Justin Ahrens, who continues to work his way back from two herniated discs suffered during the summer and has had to sit out one game this season.
As Wesson returned to action — and Holtmann said Wesson has been fully cleared for all activities and has no physical limitations — the senior said practicality won out over personal style as he declined to wear a protective mask.
“I definitely thought I was going to go black mask,” he said. “I just felt like vision-wise, maybe cutting off my (peripheral) vision would definitely hurt so I just decided not to wear anything.”