Thomas Welsh named to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award watch list

UCLA center Thomas Welsh is the only returning starter for the Bruins this year. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Senior Thomas Welsh was named to the watch list for the Kareen Abdul-Jabbar Award, which honors the nation’s top center.

Welsh averaged 10.8 points and a team-high 8.7 rebounds last year while helping the Bruins to the Sweet 16. He has started 58 of UCLA’s 68 games in the past two seasons.

The 20-man preseason watch list announced Friday will be narrowed down to 10 in February and five finalists will be announced in March, with the winner named on April 6.

Here’s the full watch list:

2018 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award Candidates

Dusan Ristic                       Arizona
Austin Wiley                       Auburn
Kingsley Okoroh                California
Tacko Fall                          Central Florida
Marques Bolden                Duke
John Egbunu                     Florida
Jessie Govan                    Georgetown
Ben Lammers                   Georgia Tech
Nick Richards                   Kentucky
Omer Yurtseven                N.C. State
Isaac Haas                        Purdue
Jock Landale                     Saint Mary’s
Angel Delgado                  Seton Hall
Michael Humphrey            Stanford
Vladimir Brodziansky        TCU
Mohamed Bamba             Texas
Tyler Davis                        Texas A&M
Thomas Welsh                  UCLA
Chimezie Metu                  USC
Ethan Happ                       Wisconsin

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

UCLA basketball 2017 report card: Thomas Welsh

UCLA center Thomas Welsh played his role in the nation’s best offense ever better than it appeared. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Strengths: Thomas Welsh was UCLA’s sixth offensive option. It’s a testament to the junior center that he still managed to average double figures. Starting alongside a couple of first-round draft picks and two of the most prolific scorers in UCLA history, Welsh played his role in the nation’s highest-scoring offense even better than it appeared. Nobody on UCLA’s roster shot a better percentage on 2-point jumpers than the 7-foot junior, according to hoop-math.com. Welsh’s 52 percent clip on 2-pointers not at the rim wasn’t the only pure shooting statistic for which he posted UCLA’s most impressive number. He led the team with an 89.4 free throw percentage. And it wasn’t a small sample size. Welsh made 42 of 47 free throws this season.

Weaknesses: Welsh was not a rim protector, a stark contrast to his more athletic and less-played backup, freshman Ike Anigbogu. He made up for some of his physical shortcomings on the defensive end with solid team defense and a team-leading 8.7 rebounds per game, but there is no denying Welsh was a finesse player on a team that had too many of them. He wasn’t a presence in the paint on either end of the floor, attempting just 21 percent of his field goals at the rim. Power forward TJ Leaf, by comparison, took 51 percent of his shots at the rim. UCLA’s glaring weakness was physical play and their center was an apt representation for why.

Best moment: Welsh played an integral role in a game that won’t stand out as one of UCLA’s most important victories of the season to the casual fan, but was vital for a number of reasons. Continue reading “UCLA basketball 2017 report card: Thomas Welsh” »

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh declare for NBA draft, won’t hire agents

Aaron Holiday (left) and Thomas Welsh will both declare for the NBA draft, but neither will hire an agent. (AP photo/Mark Humphrey)

UCLA sophomore Aaron Holiday and junior Thomas Welsh will declare for the NBA draft, a UCLA spokesperson confirmed on Monday. Neither will hire agents, meaning they have until May 24 to withdraw their names in order to return to school.

Neither player is projected to be selected in the draft. ESPN rates Holiday the No. 80 NBA prospect and Welsh No. 119. NBADraft.net ranks Holiday and Welsh 61st and 85th, respectively.

They may be declaring primarily to workout for NBA teams and gather information about how best to prepare for the league when they do leave school for good. UCLA coach Steve Alford’s statement about their decision indicated as much.

“Both Thomas and Aaron are doing their due diligence in getting feedback from the NBA to determine what’s in the best interest for their basketball futures,” Alford said. “Each of these young men come from strong families with great support networks and I want them to know that we will fully support their decisions, whichever way they go.”

There is much riding on the eventual decisions of Holiday and Welsh for a UCLA team already losing freshmen Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf to the NBA along with seniors Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton. Freshman Ike Anigbogu has also declared for the NBA draft without hiring an agent. Continue reading “Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh declare for NBA draft, won’t hire agents” »

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Basketball game day links: Styles clash in second round

Thomas Welsh, with his midrange jumper, is one of many potent weapons UCLA has on offense. HARRY HOW — GETTY IMAGES

UCLA loves to run. Cincinnati loves to wait.

The team that successfully imposes its will on offense will likely be the one to emerge from Sunday’s NCAA Tournament second-round matchup between the No. 3-seeded Bruins and the No. 6-seeded Bearcats at 6:40 p.m. PT in Sacramento.

“We’ve got to keep that ball moving whether we’re at half court or at the full court,” UCLA head coach Steve Alford said. “We’ve got to make sure our spacing is good, our cutting is sharp, our screens are good and physical and the ball moves. If it doesn’t and it becomes a grind that favors them.”

UCLA (30-4) is trying to advance to its third Sweet 16 in four years under Alford. Cincinnati (30-5) is in its seventh straight NCAA Tournament.

Links to preview the game:

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page