In a crowd of Scarlet and Gray, packing the Schottenstein Center, Stephanie and Keith Wesson prepared to watch their two sons, sophomore forward Andre and freshman center Kaleb, take the court for Ohio State prior to its Jan. 22 game against Nebraska.
Becoming Buckeyes was only a matter of time for the Wesson brothers. Keith, a former Ohio State player from 1983 to 1987, raised his sons in a Columbus suburb, practically preparing them to play for his former team.
The two played together at Westerville South, but it wasn’t clear if that would continue at the next level.
Andre and Kaleb won a state championship in 2016, playing at the Schott. A month later, Andre received an offer from Ohio State and signed his letter of intent with the Buckeyes. Now, the two play for the same team on the same court they shared that memorable moment.
“I’m happy for them that all of their work paid off and it’s just truly a blessing,” their father said. “They had a lot of choices, a lot of great schools, and for them to choose Ohio State, where I played, down the street. Words can’t describe how excited and happy we are.”
Even though the brothers are reunited, there have been roadblocks.
In only his third collegiate game, Kaleb was suspended for the Buckeyes’ game against Texas Southern on Nov. 16 for “a failure to meet the expectations of the men’s basketball program,” according to an Ohio State spokesperson. However, after one more game, he took over the starting center position for an injured sophomore Micah Potter and has not let go of it since.
Andre’s path to playing time this season has not been as clear.
During the summer, Andre underwent medical tests on an unknown condition that forced him to stop basketball activity for some time, which instilled questions into his longevity with Ohio State. During this time, Andre’s father said he “literally couldn’t do anything.” He couldn’t pick up a basketball, swim or “walk fast,” according to his mother.
Andre made it back to the court for the Buckeyes and has become the Buckeyes’ top forward off the bench, averaging more minutes than any other bench forward and playing at least 16 minutes in each of the team’s last six games. However, his father said the injury still slightly affects Andre, even months into the season.
Keith said it was a challenge for his elder son to come back and get back into the speed of the game after months away.
“An athlete who has been playing whatever sport since sixth grade, basically every day, that was really the hardest part for him,” Keith said. “And then just not knowing and not being able to do anything. It was tough on him, and it took a lot longer for him. He’s still recovering from this, especially from an offensive standpoint.”
Overall, both Andre and Kaleb have made quite the names for themselves in their time at Ohio State. Kaleb has earned two Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors this season, while Andre has been praised by his teammates and head coach Chris Holtmann for his contributions off the bench.
The brothers grew up highly competitive, Stephanie said. They were always fighting and were so hard on each other that sometimes their father had to step in. But Kaleb has always been Andre’s biggest fan. Their mother Stephanie said Kaleb stands up for his brother whenever a negative comment is made about him.
Their parents have not missed a game this season, home or away.
“I just want them to get to their highest potential, whatever that may be. I want them to leave it all out on the floor. I tell them all the time, enjoy every minute of this,” Keith said. “Having played, sometimes you get so caught up in the wins and losses and playing well or playing bad that you forget to soak in the experience; playing in Madison Square Garden, walking down Times Square, going to these great facilities, flying on a charter plane.
“They get lost in the norm of how normal things appear but I always remind them that this isn’t normal.”