Ohio State freshman forward Andre Wesson attempts a 3-pointer against Northwestern on Jan. 22 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Jacob Myers | Assistant Sports Editor

After the injury to junior forward Keita Bates-Diop, freshman forward Andre Wesson has been receiving some valuable minutes off the bench for Ohio State in his first year at the college level.

Wesson was a starter throughout his career at Westerville South High School. He averaged 17 points, six rebounds and three assists as the senior leader on route to a 2016 Ohio Division I state title. Now at OSU, he has been asked to be a role player in his first season, but is showing his coaches and teammates alike what his abilities are on the basketball court.

After the injury to Bates-Diop, OSU coach Thad Matta has relied on Wesson, not to mimic the highly touted forward, but to play his own style of basketball when his number is called.

“I love the way Andre (Wesson) is playing right now,” Matta said. “Kind of coming into his own, and he’s different than Keita (Bates-Diop) but can do some of the same things.”

In limited minutes off the bench in Big Ten play, Wesson has averaged 2.6 points per game, with only three rebounds and one assist. However, averaging only 9.7 minutes of playing time, the freshman is third on the team with five steals and has two blocks in conference play.

In the Buckeyes’ last game against Minnesota on Wednesday, Wesson played a career-high 19 minutes and was a factor in the 78-72 victory. He connected on 6-of-7 foul shots and nailed a 3 in the second half to extend the lead to eight with 10 minutes remaining.

Wesson’s minutes and production has spiked as he becomes more acquainted with the college game.

“Just being more comfortable, getting used to the speed of the game,” Wesson said. “That’s probably the thing that has helped. Also, just changing gears a bit more and not playing at one speed. Just slowing down and letting the game slow down.”

From what Wesson has done in practice, junior forward Jae’Sean Tate thinks that his production in the actual games will come with time.

“He just has to keep getting more comfortable in the game because in practice, I mean when we go scarlet and gray, he dominates. I don’t think he ever misses two shots in a row,” Tate said. “He’s been playing good minutes and has been a big part of our offense and defense when he checks in. We are going to need him to do that and continue to get better.”

Going forward, Wesson has some areas of the game where he knows he can improve. When it is all said and done, though, the team comes first.

“Probably just being more assertive, being more aggressive on the offensive end,” Wesson said. “Just continuing to just do my job, whatever the team needs me to do to win.”