Kaleb Wesson had a decorated high-school basketball career throughout his four years at Westerville (Ohio) South. He has been named the Ohio Capital Conference, District 10 and Central District Player of the Year and was given the nod for the Gatorade Ohio Player of the Year on Tuesday.
A day later Wesson, who is a 2017 Ohio State signee, was named The Associated Press Mr. Ohio Basketball for 2017, which was voted by a media panel across the state.
When Wesson joins the Buckeye program he will be playing with a teammate he knows very well. His older brother, Andre, just completed his freshman season for the Scarlet and Gray, and the two played three seasons together for Westerville South, winning the Division I state title in 2016.
Andre Wesson and Kaleb Wesson are following in the footsteps of their father, Keith Wesson, who played for OSU from 1983-87.
“My dad played there so I know what it means to be a Buckeye,” Kaleb Wesson told the AP. “Hopefully, I can help them win some championships.”
The youngest Wesson (6-9, 280) played center for the Wildcats but OSU recruited him as a forward. To be better prepared for the collegiate ranks, the No. 76 overall prospect in the 2017 class shed better than 40 pounds between his junior and senior campaigns, per the AP.
“I needed to do that to be able to play my best at the next level,” Wesson said.
He shot 67.0 percent from the floor while averaging 22.4 points and 10.9 rebounds per game as a senior for the Wildcats this season. In a game at Upper Arlington, Ohio, on Jan. 24, he put up 49 points, going 15 of 19 from the floor, including a three-pointer, and knocking down 18 of 19 foul shots.
Along with establishing a school record for points in a single game, Wesson grabbed seven rebounds against UA, who fielded shooting guard Dane Goodwin (6-4, 175), another 2017 Mr. Basketball nominee. Goodwin, a four-star recruit and 2018 OSU commit, scored 35 points while hitting 8 of 14 triples as the Golden Bears beat the Wildcats, 68-67, thanks to Max Martz connecting on a three-pointer as time expired.
“That was crazy,” Andre Wesson said Jan. 27 of the game. “I haven’t been to many high school games like that. It was sold out, came down to the last second. Dane played great, Kaleb played great. (Upper Arlington) hit a big shot – I didn’t think it was going in. It hurt a little bit, I’m not going to lie, it hurt.”
Kaleb Wesson’s scoring output vs. UA eclipsed a 43-point performance in a win over Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep earlier this season. The four-star recruit did some work on the glass in that game as well, as he pulled down 15 boards.
His senior year at Westerville South ended with a 41-39 loss to Hilliard Davidson in a Central District semifinal game on March 8, which brought the Wildcats record to 19-6. Wesson was given a technical foul after blocking a shot with 39 seconds left. Davidson then made both free throws to tie the game and won it on a buzzer beater.
Wesson started as a sophomore and helped his team to a state runner-up finish. In the championship game the following season, Wesson tossed in seven points and collected four rebounds across 20 minutes when the Wildcats beat Lima Senior, 57-55. He had 14 points and 13 rebounds while logging 23 minutes in the semifinal contest vs. Garfield Heights.
Wesson received four of the seven first-place votes by the district chairmen for Mr. Basketball, according to the AP. Two of the remaining three first-place votes were given to Kyle Young of Massillon Jackson while 2018 OSU commit Justin Ahrens of Versailles received the other. The seven-player ballot was rounded out by Dwayne Cohill (Parma Heights Holy Name), Ethan Linder (Haviland Wayne Trace) and Parker Black (Byesville Meadowbrook).
Lima Senior’s Xavier Simpson won the award last year. He is now a freshman playing for Michigan.
Wesson being named the latest Mr. Basketball ends a six-year hiatus in which a player from the Central District did not win the award. Trey Burke of Columbus Northland, a member of the Central District, won it 2011. Burke’s high-school teammate, Jared Sullinger, took home the honor in 2009 and '10.
Sullinger, who played for OSU from 2011-12, is one of five two-time winners. Franklin’s Luke Kennard, who just completed his sophomore season with Duke, most recently accomplished said feat (2014, '15). As for three-time winners, there’s only been one – LeBron James of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (2002, '03, '04).
Canton McKinley sophomore Kierstan Bell was named Ms. Ohio Basketball for 2017 on March 15.
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