Loyola’s Thomas Welsh unlikeliest of McDonald’s All-Americans
Loyola head coach Jamal Adams was nearly prophetic in his claim. This time last season with all of the attention surrounding his talented, then-junior point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Adamswas telling whoever would listen that his center Thomas Welsh, also a junior at the time, was a high-major recruit.
Welsh was soon offered by UCLA. Before the start of the 2013-14 season, he signed with the Bruins.
"I thought he was a high-major recruit and a young man that would make a big splash in college basketball," Adams said.
The coach wasn’t as sure his player would be named a McDonald’s All-American during his senior year — a feat that was accomplished last week.
The candid Adams thought Welsh was a "long shot" for one of the most prestigious honors in all of basketball.
Welsh is the most unlikeliest of McDonald’s All-Americans. Before the summer going into his senior season, he wasn’t on the radar of many.
(The selection) speaks to his work ethic. He’s just a throwback kid — a prototypical back to the basket guy that you can throw the ball to and he will get buckets.
Loyola head coach Jamal Adams
Welsh isn’t a four-year varsity player. The only thing enormous about Welsh entering high school was his size. He wasn’t even a starter on Loyola’s JV team and was the eighth man on the depth chart as a freshman. As a sophomore, he moved up to seventh.
"He’s got to be one of the rare guys to make that (jump)," Adams said. "I think he’s got to have the most unique story of any guy in the McDonald’s All-American game."
Somehow as a junior he became a double-double guy on the varsity level.
The summer heading into his senior season, Adams believes, was key in Welsh being named a McDonald’s All-American. As Adams puts it, Welsh had the opportunity to play in front of some big names and had some "great" performances on the travel circuit.
Adams believes Welsh’s work ethic is second to none. And while he may not be the No. 1 player in the country — Jahlil Okafor or Myles Turner — Adams believes his big man is in the conversation with those considered to be the best bigs in the country. The McDonald’s All-American selection proves that.
Welsh has proven it himself in the Cubs trek to be the No. 1 team in the state and one in the best in the country.
— All American Games (@McDAAG) February 4, 2014
"I think I’ve been working hard and I have been lucky enough to play for great coaches and with great players who have all helped me," Welsh told FOXSportsWest.com via text message. "As a result I’m more confident in my game."
Added Adams: "(The selection) speaks to his work ethic. He’s just a throwback kid — a prototypical back to the basket guy that you can throw the ball to and he will get buckets."
Welsh will have his chance to do that with the nation’s elite on Apr. 2 at the United Center in Chicago.