Ohio State basketball: Andre Wesson embracing new expectations, same role

Andre Wesson has gone from barely being a Buckeye to the face of the Ohio State program in a little over three years.

“I haven’t stopped and thought about it yet but just hearing you say it is kind of crazy,” he said. “It’s went fast. I’ve enjoyed my three years so far here and I’m looking forward to the fourth.”

The 6-foot-6 senior is not the best-known player on the 2019-20 roster — that would be his brother, Kaleb, a 6-9 junior — but he was the first player made available to the media this summer.

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With changes to how much coaches are allowed to work with players over the summer, there is not much of an offseason anymore, but Thursday’s media session served as well as anything as the soft launch of Andre Wesson’s senior season,

While the younger Wesson got his Ohio State offer first and accepted it in July 2015 (prior to his junior season), Andre had to wait until after his senior season was over — capped with the Wessons’ Westerville South squad beating Lima Senior in the Division I state championship game at Value City Arena — before he got the chance to be a Buckeye.

He accepted then-coach Thad Matta’s offer and hasn’t looked back since, working his way into the starting lineup last season and finishing third on the team in scoring (8.6 points per game), rebounding (4.1 rebounds per game) and assists (62).

With a star-studded freshman class coming in, Andre Wesson isn’t likely to be asked to increase his numbers much, but his role as glue guy figures to get only more important.

The Buckeyes are projected to be a top 25 team — at worst — this season, and holding a club together gets only more difficult as expectations rise.

“He’s going to be critical for us,” said coach Chris Holtmann, who replaced Matta as head coach two years ago. “Andre is, as I’ve said, a great example of a young man who has just gotten better every year and really provided some great leadership for us last year. We’re not in the NCAA Tournament without him.”

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The Buckeyes won a game in the Big Dance for a second year in a row but have their eyes on a larger prize next March, not to mention improving on their eighth place finish in the Big Ten standings.

“I think he’s got to take the next step as a player and as a leader, and we’ve challenged him in that area,” Holtmann said. “I think that is a significant area for us. Listen, we all know that this is a critical summer for us in a lot of ways because we have a young team. I am excited about the fact that we have Andre, who has certainly got some experience and has showed some ability to do some things.”

Kaleb Wesson and fellow junior C.J. Walker, a transfer from Florida State who sat out last season and has two years of eligibility left, will also be looked upon to lead, but Andre fits the mold most classically of anyone on the roster.

“It’s nice to see a four-year guy and it’s nice to see him continue to grow as a player,” Holtmann concluded.

Leader is a role Andre Wesson embraces, though he said not to expect him to be giving any Vince Lombardi speeches.

“My personality is not like a rah-rah guy,” he said. “If I need that I can do that, but I’m more of a laid-back guy. Just showing guys how to work is the best way I know how to lead.”

Ohio State has not won a Big Ten championship — regular season or tournament — since 2013, and that is something he hopes to help rectify.

“For sure that’s been on my mind a lot, especially this last year,” he said. “I mean I don’t have a ring. That’s something I really want, whether it’s Big Ten regular season or tournament. That’s definitely on my mind.”

So, too, is improving as a player of course.

This offseason has been about improving his all-around game, particularly an area that could greatly impact his team and enhance his pro prospects — making more 3-pointers.

“I thought I definitely improved from my sophomore to junior season, and now I’m just trying to take the next step to improve every facet of my game,” he said.

“I feel like I can do more than just shoot. I can score on the low block, score in the midrange a little bit. I just feel like that’s what the NBA is doing more with forwards is shooting the 3.”

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