Following the magical Final Four run that captivated the country this past season, Loyola coach Porter Moser is now trying to capitalize on the recruiting front. With Naperville North senior Tom Welch committing to the Ramblers on Thursday, Moser and his staff are off to a great start.
Welch, a versatile 6-7 forward who is among the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top 10 prospects in the Class of 2019 in Illinois, had become a coveted recruiting target since the conclusion of his junior season. He sported double-digit mid-major offers and received a July offer from Ole Miss in the SEC.
But Loyola was in on Welch early with Moser and assistant coach Bryan Mullins leading an all-out pursuit of a player who will fit perfectly into Loyola’s style and culture.
“I think their staff did an incredible job of recruiting me, showing me the most love,” Welch pointed out. “They were on me early. They were at every single one of my games in July. Actions speak louder than words, and they really made me feel wanted and comfortable. And it’s nice to feel wanted by the head coach.”
Welch jumped on the scene last summer and then blossomed as a junior when he averaged 13.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists for a team that won 26 games and DuPage Valley Conference and regional championships.
He then put together a terrific spring and summer while playing with the Illinois Wolves on the club basketball circuit. He attracted high-major interest, including the Ole Miss offer in July, and knows he could have waited it out longer with signing day still three months away. But Welch believed there was no reason to wait.
“I know there is a business side to it [recruiting] with the timing and waiting to see what else may materialize,” says Welch. “But Loyola did everything right. I felt super comfortable with Loyola and my decision, and it’s not worth losing that by waiting. I like the fact it’s close to home and friends and family will be able to see me play.”
Welch’s game perfectly suits the evolution of modern basketball with the need for players with size to switch on screens, make shots, put it on the floor and be a threat to drive and pass. Plus, he runs the floor, competes at a high level and boasts outstanding agility for a player at his size.
“I think it’s a great fit for me with how they play, how they plan to use me,” Welch added. “Watching them make the run they made and doing it the right way was impressive. It’s obviously a winning program, and I want to be a part of keeping that going.”
This fall Welch will try to lead the Naperville North soccer team to its third straight state championship. Last year he was named the Gatorade Illinois Boys Soccer Player of the Year after a record-breaking junior season in goal. The two-time all-stater made a state final record 14 saves in North’s 1-0 state championship win over Libertyville and didn’t allow a goal in the postseason.
But today he’s a jewel in Loyola’s important recruiting class. Moser already has a commitment from Paxson Wojcik, a 6-4 perimeter player from La Lumiere School in Indiana, who also played with the Illinois Wolves. The Ramblers are also locked in on Brother Rice guard Marquise Kennedy, who was the state’s biggest stock riser in the senior class this past July.
Follow Joe Henricksen and the City/Suburban Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport
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