Ohio State's Andre Wesson 'couldn't ask for anything better' after rookie season

Adam Jardy
The Columbus Dispatch
Former Buckeye Andre Wesson averaged 16.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists in his first professional season, playing for Lapuan Korikobrat in Finland.

All Andre Wesson wanted was a chance.

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the 2020 NCAA Tournament, it put an abrupt end to Wesson’s collegiate career and dealt a significant blow to his professional aspirations. With overseas leagues mostly shut down and opportunities significantly limited, Wesson had to play the waiting game.

During his four years at Ohio State, Wesson was critical to the team’s success but didn’t post eye-catching numbers. The strength in his game lay in his ability to impact winning, a quality that can be challenging to get across to a foreign team that’s not intimately familiar with past success. In four seasons with the Buckeyes, Wesson averaged 5.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists. As a senior, he posted numbers of 9.2, 3.9 and 1.9, respectively, and finished fourth in the Big Ten by shooting 42.2% (43 for 102) from 3.

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After a year away from the game, Wesson spent the 2021-22 season playing for Finland’s Lapuan Korikobrat. In his first professional season, he averaged 16.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists as the only player to finish among the top three on the roster in each category.

An international profile has been established. More professional basketball awaits.

“It was special,” Wesson said after playing in the Kingdom Summer League at Ohio Dominican University on July 3. “Definitely any time you get to play the game again when it’s taken away from you is fun. We didn’t have the best year, being a rookie in Finland and everything, but I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Wesson’s team went 11-21 overall, playing in Finland’s top level of professional basketball, but the Ohio State product said it’s a season he can build on as he figures out what’s next.

“That’s everything you work for growing up,” he said. “To be able to do that and have a pretty good year, I feel like I was able to take advantage of the opportunity and hopefully move up from it.”

In between Ohio State and Finland, Wesson found opportunities to stay busy. He won a championship in the Dos Equis 3X3U National Championship in April 2021, spent some time playing for the Columbus Condors in The Basketball League and even worked for his dad’s construction company to help make ends meet.

Otherwise, it was a matter of staying patient and trusting that the word would eventually get out.

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“People who know the game and watched us play know how good I am and how much I mean to a team, but some people who just look at stats, it’s not as impressive,” he said after the 3x3U tournament. “I understand, but hopefully once I get this start I can show that I can put up more stats and be able to have that on my resume as well.”

The move to Finland wasn’t without its challenges. Wesson played against UMass Lowell product Christian Lutete, a forward who had 9 points and nine rebounds in 31 minutes in a 76-56 Ohio State win on Nov. 10, 2020. Lutete was the only player in the league Wesson said he was familiar with, and he actually missed the game against Lutete's River Hawks due to injury.

Wesson’s younger brother, Kaleb, spent the 2021-22 season playing in Israel and then Puerto Rico. With his brother in another country and his family back in the United States, Andre said he relied on apps like FaceTime and WhatsApp to keep in touch with his loved ones.

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“Nine months away from everybody, you're definitely get to missing them,” he said. “That’s my first time really away from home. The first couple of months were definitely rough, not really knowing anybody, a different culture and everything. Once you get through the first couple months and get to know people, how to get to different places, it’s not that bad. I kind of enjoyed it towards the end.”

For now, Wesson said he’s enjoying his time back in Columbus and spending time with his family.

“I’m just excited to see what’s next,” he said. “I have no clue right now. Still trying to figure it out, but hopefully something soon.”

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy

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