Westerville South’s Kaleb Wesson named AP Mr. Basketball


COLUMBUS (AP) — Kaleb Wesson accomplished much in his four seasons at Westerville South, from playing alongside his brother and winning a state championship to receiving numerous individual awards and nearly scoring 50 points in a close-to-perfect performance.

He received more recognition Wednesday in being named Associated Press Mr. Ohio Basketball for 2017, as voted by a media panel across the state.

The 6-foot-10 center averaged 22.4 points and 10.9 rebounds per game and shot 67 percent from the floor this season for the Wildcats.

Wesson is a four-star recruit and Ohio State signee who will rejoin his brother, Andre, who was a freshman for the Buckeyes this season. They played three seasons together for Westerville South, including when the Wildcats won the Division I state title in 2016.

Their father, Keith Wesson, played for Ohio State from 1983-87.

“My dad played there, so I know what it means to be a Buckeye,” Kaleb Wesson said. “Hopefully, I can help them win some championships.”

He was able to elevate his game after dropping more than 40 pounds between his junior and senior years and is down to about 280 pounds. The slimmer physique has added to his mobility and conditioning.

“I needed to do that to be able to play my best at the next level,” Wesson said.

His top performance this season came Jan. 24 against Upper Arlington, who featured junior Dane Goodwin, a 2018 commit to Ohio State.

Goodwin, also a Mr. Basketball nominee this year, had 35 points and his Golden Bears won 68-67 on a 3-pointer as time expired, but Wesson had a school-record 49 points.

Wesson made 15 of 19 field goals, including a 3-pointer, and 18 of 19 free throws. He also had seven rebounds. Earlier in the season, he scored 43 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in a win over Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep.

His season ended on a sour note, though, when Westerville South finished 19-6 following a Central District semifinal loss to Hilliard Davidson. Wesson was assessed a technical foul after blocking a shot with 39 seconds left. The two free throws for Davidson tied the score, and Davidson won on a buzzer-beater.

The ending was far different from the previous two seasons for Westerville South.

Wesson started as a sophomore on the state runner-up team and a year ago had seven points and four rebounds in 20 minutes when the Wildcats beat Lima Senior 57-55 in the title game. In the semifinal game, he had 14 points and 13 rebounds in 23 minutes.

Wesson received four of the seven first-place votes by the district chairmen for Mr. Basketball. Kyle Young (Massillon Jackson) had two firsts, and Justin Ahrens (Versailles) had one. Others on the ballot besides those three and Goodwin were Dwayne Cohill (Parma Heights Holy Name), Ethan Linder (Haviland Wayne Trace) and Parker Black (Byesville Meadowbrook).

Lima Senior’s Xavier Simpson, a freshman now playing for Michigan, was the 2016 recipient.

There have been five two-time winners, most recently Luke Kennard of Franklin (2014, 2015). LeBron James of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary is the only three-time winner (2002, 2003 and 2004).

Wesson is the first Central District winner since Trey Burke of Columbus Northland in 2011. Northland’s Jared Sullinger won in 2009 and 2010.

Canton McKinley sophomore Kierstan Bell was named Ms. Ohio Basketball 2017 on March 15.


By Craig Merz

Associated Press

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