Boys Basketball: Caleb Gossett's skill set sparking Olentangy Braves

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Caleb Gossett has been a defensive and rebounding force for Olentangy, earning him praise from coach John Feasel. The 6-foot-3 senior forward has been given the nickname “Smoke” because “smoke covers everything.”

Olentangy boys basketball players know coach John Feasel’s penchant for giving out nicknames, so Caleb Gossett wasn’t surprised when he got his earlier this season.

Feasel decided to call Gossett, a 6-foot-3 senior forward and one of the Braves’ top defenders, “Smoke” because “smoke covers everything.”

“That kind of just started,” Gossett said, laughing. “He usually puts me on the other team’s best offensive player and he always says, ‘We’re gonna put the smoke on him.’ ”

In Feasel’s opinion, the nickname is no overstatement and the trust he has put in Gossett is earned, with the bonus that Gossett’s offense has increased in recent weeks. He was averaging 4.4 points and 4.8 rebounds through 15 games, and the Braves were 10-5 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Thomas Worthington on Jan. 29.

More than half of his 67 rebounds in that stretch, 34, were offensive.

“That one of our best players is one of our best defenders is huge,” Feasel said. “It’s nice when you can be pretty confident that a guy isn’t going to put up huge points against you unless he gets to the free-throw line a bunch of times. (Gossett’s) job is to take that guy out and he’s done a great job, and on top of that now his offense is coming along. 

“He’s given us great defense and then to come down and score … he isn’t making 20-foot jumpers, but he is making the shots he should make and rebounding like crazy.”

Arguably Gossett’s best all-around game came Jan. 18, when he recorded 12 points and 10 rebounds in a 61-51 win at Shelby. Ten days earlier, he had 10 rebounds in a 55-48 win over Dublin Jerome.

“If he gives us 10 or 12 points, that’s a great night for us,” Feasel said.

Gossett is coming off a football career in which he played key roles at wide receiver and defensive back to help Olentangy to the Division II, Region 7 final in 2018 and a regional semifinal last fall. Over the past two seasons, he caught 76 passes for 928 yards and nine touchdowns and recorded 97 tackles with four interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.

Gossett, who committed Jan. 15 to play football at Dayton, said football is a primary reason he emphasizes defense on the basketball court.

“I know there are better scorers than me, but I’ve always just been a defensive guy, hustling, getting on the floor, making steals and blocks, doing whatever we have to do to win. I think that’s opened some offensive opportunities for me,” Gossett said. “A lot of (defense) is lateral speed. I use a lot of that in football at receiver and (defensive back) and that sliding technique works in both sports.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave