NEW YORK - Kaleb Wesson was the centerpiece of Ohio State's 2017 recruiting class and came into Columbus with high expectations.
So far, he appears to be living up to those expectations.
Wesson, a native of Westerville, Ohio and younger brother of Ohio State forward Andre Wesson, was the rated as the No. 74 overall high school prospect in the country in his class and the top player in Ohio.
Since the 2015-16 season, Kaleb Wesson has shed around 60 pounds — according to his brother — to get acclimated to the faster pace style of play at the collegiate level.
Kaleb Wesson looks like he has shed a good amount of weight. Looks really slimmed down from HS days. pic.twitter.com/TaEtqAcYv8
— James Grega Jr. (@JGrega11) September 14, 2017
Speaking at Big Ten Media Day in New York City, Jae'Sean Tate said the younger Wesson has surprised him with his versatility.
"Kaleb is one of those special, special big men. He has more of an old school feel — back to the basket kind of feel — but he also can space the floor," Tate said. "I didn't know he could shoot like he does. He just has a natural knack for the ball. He is not really that athletic, but somehow he blocks shots in practice, gets his hands on rebounds and has great hands. He is going to play a very important role."
While Wesson might be able to play an important role eventually for the Buckeyes, his immediate impact could be in question.
Chris Holtmann told reporters Thursday that Wesson suffered a sprained ankle in practice recently and has been forced to miss some time. He added, though, that Wesson and Keita Bates-Diop — who has also been out with a bruised knee — should be back "in short order." Holtmann also added that Kyle Young has returned to practice after missing time while recovering from a tonsillectomy.
"Kaleb's been out for just about a week and Keita banged knees," Holtmann said. "But we expect both of those guys back in short order. At what point? We aren't certain. But we think they will be back within the week."
Despite the time missed, Wesson has still been able to make an impression on one of Ohio State's other veterans.
Fifth-year senior Kam Williams, the oldest member of Ohio State's 2017-18 team, echoed Tate's comments about Wesson, adding that the freshman's passing ability can make those around him better.
"He is such a dynamic scorer in the post. He can also pass out of the post. He makes an impact on shots because he is so big and has a long reach," Williams said. "When you have such a strong post presence, you have guys like me cutting, and you've got Keita on the other wing. You can't (focus) too much on Kaleb because he can kick it out. He has that ability to find the open man in the post and that is something that is really rare nowadays."
Listed at 6-foot-9, 270 pounds, Wesson is expected to play an important role for the Buckeyes once he is healthy and ready to go. Tate, a forward-turned-guard, said he thinks Wesson can impact the pace of a game just by himself if he continues to progress.
"He can be a real dominant big man. The Big Ten has really went away from the traditional big," Tate said. "They play smaller, but I think Kaleb can go back to that old school kind of basketball."