Though it didn’t come as a surprise, the commitment of 2016 Westerville South three-star small forward Andre Wesson was welcome news to the Ohio State basketball staff.
Wesson (6-6, 190) has been thought to be a near-lock to be a Buckeye since he received an offer from his hometown school March 23 – his younger brother Kaleb has issued a verbal commitment to Ohio State for the class of 2017 and his father Keith played for the Buckeyes in the 1980s – but he made things official at a commitment ceremony at Westerville South this afternoon, selecting Ohio State over Butler and Richmond.
Surrounded by 13 other Wildcats signing to play college athletics, Wesson unzipped his jacket to reveal an Ohio State T-shirt.
“This was great, there’s nothing like it," Wesson said of making his commitment official, an announcement that was met with cheers from his classmates in the crowd. "The only thing better than that was winning the state championship.
“In terms of the fit I was looking for a coaching staff that I had a good relationship with and I trusted them a lot, players that I trusted a lot and just the overall good fit, campus-wise and all that.”
One of the students in the crowd with the biggest reaction to the news was Kaleb Wesson. The 2017 center asked his older brother not to tell him what school he was selecting, wanting to find out with everyone else. Kaleb, decked out in an Ohio State track suit and T-shirt, ran out of the auditorium in excitement before returning to congratulate his brother.
“I didn't want to know, I wanted to learn like everybody else," Kaleb Wesson said. "I wanted to be excited like everybody else. I told him I didn't want to know.
"I was geeked, I ran out here out through the school, got a little sweat dripping off my forehead. It was exciting."
Andre Wesson was not recruited by Ohio State in the early going and never really picked up steam with major schools, as his offer sheet would suggest. But the wing feels he can bring something to the Ohio State roster.
“They want me to play the two, three and the four and that’s really where I see myself in the college game and just making plays," he said. "That’s what I have to do, just make winning plays and that’s what I do the best.”
The commitment of the wing comes on the heels of JUCO transfer point guard C.J. Jackson choosing to use his three remaining years of eligibility at Ohio State after a year at Eastern Florida State College, choosing the Buckeyes over Seton Hall and UConn, among other suitors.
The addition of two players in two days has helped Thad Matta and his staff build depth after the transfer of four of five players from the 2015 recruiting class. The Buckeyes do return their top six players from last year’s team, meaning Wesson will be looked to for depth more than anything.
The departure of assistant coach Jeff Boals for a head coaching job at Stony Brook University did little to change his view of Ohio State, Wesson said, adding that assistant Dave Dickerson was his primary recruiter.
"It was pretty odd, it was pretty weird, but after talking to coach Matta and coach Dickerson and getting a feel for everything I still felt good about my decision,” he said.
“I wanted to be a part of the program because I know what it’s like to play at Ohio State. My dad played for Ohio State so I know what it means to be a Buckeye and play for Ohio State and take them to that next level and win a national championship there.”
While he was not a highly recruited player, Wesson has shown a knack for winning, capturing a Division I state title alongside his younger brother this past season. Though he will have to wait a year until he can once again play alongside Kaleb, a four-star center, the ability to remain close to home and play with his brother was a big factor for Andre Wesson.
“Coach Matta, he’s definitely talked to me and Kaleb about having a brand and that’s what we’re going to try to develop when we go there, we’re going to try to develop a good brand and make a name for ourselves through Ohio State,” Andre Wesson said.
“When I talked to him yesterday he’s definitely talking national championship and that’s what I really like. Winning a state championship, I really liked that and that made me get the feeling that I want more and that’s a national championship and that’s what I’m going to try to do.”
While his game still needs refined, he can bring size and versatility to the wing for the Buckeyes.
Wesson joins a recruiting class that features four-star power forward Derek Funderburk and three-star center Micah Potter. With the addition of Jackson, Matta has one remaining scholarship to fill in the 2016 class or with a transfer if he chooses, though Ohio State may elect to role that vacancy over to the 2017 class.