Family Helped Develop Blake Wesley On And Off The Court

Nathan Erbach

Guard Blake Wesley is already a household name with basketball fans around Notre Dame and the South Bend area. The four-star and top 100 recruit from South Bend (Ind.) Riley has been a top target for the Notre Dame staff for a long time. He received his offer in July of last year, and as a local product, the staff knew about him well before the offer came about.

As Irish head coach Mike Brey and the coaching staff look to fill out their 2021 class, Wesley is at the top of the board, but he is in no rush to make a decision. Especially with COVID-19 delaying AAU ball and putting a halt to on-campus visits and face-to-face interaction. The Wesley family understands the importance of taking the process slow and making a decision when it’s the right time.

Blake and his father, Derrick Wesley, recently spoke with Irish Breakdown about a different side of Blake and the family. Everyone knows about Wesley the recruit and the athlete, but he is equally as talented off the court. The Wesley family is heavily involved in the South Bend Community School System and are also heavily involved in the community as a whole.

“Blake’s Mom (Leslie Wesley) and I, both grew up in the South Bend area,” Mr. Wesley explained. “I went to South Bend Riley like Blake, and she went to LaSalle High School. So we are both products of the South Bend Community School System. She’s now on the School Board, and the district is responsible for about 16,000 students.

“She’s had relatives that have been teachers, administrators and also principals in South Bend,” he continued. “In fact, her entire family pretty much comes from an education background.”

The Wesley’s would actually move away for about 10 years after high school. The elder Wesley played basketball at Ball State University, and Mrs. Wesley received her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in Bloomington. However, getting back to South Bend and raising a family in the community they grew up in was always a part of the plan.

“This is our home,” he stated in regards to South Bend. “We both moved away for a little while. I played ball at Ball State and she went to college at Indiana University, and then I got my first job in Bloomington. After that, we moved up to Indianapolis for a fews years before coming back to South Bend and starting our family. I came back here to run my State Farm Insurance Agency.”

Blake comes from a sports family. Obviously, his dad played college basketball, but his mom was a cheerleader in high school and his siblings all played sports in high school including soccer, volleyball and basketball. One of his older sisters, Taylor, played college basketball for Indiana University-South Bend and just graduated earlier this year. Blake also grew up playing other sports, but elected to focus solely on basketball in high school.

“Growing up I played soccer and football as well,” stated the younger Wesley. “I played all over the field in football. I lined up at quarterback, receiver and safety and would do that all in the same game. We were in our first playoff game, and I was tripped up during a QB draw and ended up breaking my thumb. I was still able to shoot and stuff, but after that I decided to focus on basketball only.”

Right now, Blake is just trying to get better on and off the court. Summer school, sleep and weight training have been essential parts of his every day routine. AAU started back up recently as well, so he’s been able to get back on the court and compete with his teammates.

“Early on when COVID-19 first started, I just tried to keep my distance,” he stated. “Eat, lift and repeat was sort of my motto. The gyms just opened back up recently, so I was able to get back in there. And then, I just finished my summer school class I was taking.

“I’m trying to go to sleep a lot earlier than I used to as well,” he continued. “I’ve noticed when I get to bed earlier, the next day I shoot better, so I’ve tried to make that a daily routine. But I am just trying to keep my mind and body right. My goal is to be 185 pounds by September when our season starts, and right now I am 177.”

Even with all the success and recruiting fanfare Blake has received, Mr. and Mrs. Wesley have helped keep Blake and the rest of the family grounded. Sometimes college recruits, just like collegiate and professional athletes have this persona that they aren’t normal people. The Wesley family wants to live as much of a normal life as possible and Mr. Wesley explained to Irish Breakdown that balance is key.

“It is a lot of balance,” he stated. “You still have to have a normal life. I still have to be a father, and Blake’s mom still has to be a mother. You still have a family, and that is the nucleus. Even sports come from the outside, and that shouldn’t interfere with the basic things you do as a family. You have to have balance. You have certain time periods when you have sports and when you have family time, when you have homework or community work.

“The more that Blake plays, and the more attention that he gets, we just have to have more balance where we say ok after a certain time we are shutting everything down,” Mr. Wesley continued. “Right now with him being in the summer, he has more time to work out and do things like that. A lot more free time. And the good thing about having a mom and dad that have been married for 27 years is that we work together.”

Blake wants to get into sports media after his basketball playing days are over. He is currently in a sports broadcasting class at his high school, and wants to pursue that in college and make that his major. Just like his brother and sisters before him, he understands that eventually the ball will stop dribbling at some point, and it definitely helps that he was raised by a family that values education first and foremost. As for his recruitment, a decision will likely come in the fall, but right now he just wants to enjoy his final year of AAU and prep basketball. 

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