LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Bash Wieland playfully throws the basketball up to block other teammates’ shots during practice.
He’ll stick his tongue out at a friend. Or, he will give a quick wink.
And you can always count on the Lakota East basketball standout for a good one-liner. After all, he has a 4.09 grade-point average.
“He’s very, very witty,” Lakota East Athletic Director Rich Bryant said.
Wieland, a 6-foot-4 guard, is one of the best players in Greater Cincinnati on one of the area’s top boys’ basketball teams. What’s also refreshing is the fact that he doesn’t take himself too seriously.
“It’s just fun to be here with all my friends,” Wieland said. “It’s just a great place to be – that’s just how Lakota East is.”
Bash, formally Sebastian (but Bash admittedly sounds better for a basketball player), has a playful demeanor, care for others and deep commitment to the Thunderhawks.
“Bash is probably the goofiest kid I’ve ever coached in my life,” Adkins said.
“He’s very, very light-hearted. He knows how to make everybody laugh. Even in serious moments, he can kind of get guys to smile a little bit. Him and I have a really good relationship. He knows how to get under my skin and I know how to get under his skin. He’s a really funny kid.”
But, there is more to Wieland than the chuckles he gives teammates and coaches.
"Most of all, he’s grateful and he’s very humble," Adkins said. "Those are two qualities I think that are great about his personality because a lot of times your best players can be guys who have been told how good they are and can be very arrogant and he is the exact opposite of that. And because of that, his teammates love him.”
Wieland’s selfless nature is all geared toward team success. He takes losses tougher than anyone. He watched game film of last season’s district final loss probably 20 times. He took ownership of a critical turnover he committed against Princeton at University of Dayton Arena.
“It really pushed me to be the best I can be and just lead this team,” Wieland. “And I feel like we are headed in the right direction.”
The Thunderhawks have successfully met goals that included a Greater Miami Conference championship and an opportunity at a district title.
“When your best player is your leader and is your go-to guy, that’s when you have something special,” Bryant said.
Lakota East (19-5) plays Kettering Fairmont (17-8) in a Division I district final at 7 p.m. Saturday at UD Arena.
Wieland, a Bellarmine University signee, averages 19.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.1 steals.
He shoots nearly 60 percent from the field including 44 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. He’s almost an 80 percent free-throw shooter.
“He’s having a good of a season as anybody I’ve ever coached,” Adkins said. “He’s just extremely efficient.”
Wieland, 17, has improved in a number of areas recently including his ability to shoot off the bounce and his skill to get to the rim. He has an excellent post-up presence and is a strong passer.
“When the game is being played he is not real light-hearted – he is very intense,” Adkins said. “…Once he’s on the court he’s a killer and he wants to win.”
Bryant said Wieland’s unique personality bodes well for the Thunderhawks on and off the court.
“He’s a student-athlete first - tremendous in the classroom,” Bryant said.
“In a game on the court you will find somebody who is a fierce competitor. In practice, you will not find somebody who has more fun. He is a spirited young man who will joke with you, who will laugh with you, who will make fun of you – even me – he makes fun of me and I absolutely love it. I have not come across one like him who can turn it on and turn it off. He works with every single kid in the building. He says hi to everybody he sees in the hallway.”
That includes Wieland's good friendship with student manager Zack Allen, who is a student with special needs at Lakota East.
“Those guys are like brothers,” Adkins said. “First of all, (Zack) brightens everybody’s day. Him and Bash have something special.”
Wieland and Allen played Mario Kart together this past weekend. Allen gives Wieland a life perspective beyond basketball. Allen will often hug Wieland when he initially sees him at practice.
“He means the world to me,” Wieland said. “…I love Zack. He is like one of the teammates.”