Welsh calls Hogs

Hargrave combo guard Stefan Welsh (6-3, 180) won't visit Arkansas until September, but goes ahead and lets it be known he'll be signing with the Razorbacks.

In the end, Stefan Welsh decided there was no better time than now to be a Razorbacks.

Welsh, a 6-3, 180-pound combo guard who will spend his senior season at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., had previously planned to take an unofficial visit to the University of Arkansas first, but then decided that was even needed.

That was in large part because of the job UA head coach Stan Heath and assistant Ronny Thompson have done this summer with Welsh, who joins former McGehee standout and current Cleveland Heritage Christian star Michael Washington (6-10, 230) as Arkansas commits for the 2006 class.

"My mom and I sit down and talked about it and she said life is all about relationships and somebody you can trust," Welsh said. "I trust Coach Heath and Coach Thompson and they are both great people. I want to play for them and that's all I need to know."

Welsh, who averaged 20 points per game last season for Newport News (Va.) Woodside chose Arkansas over Tennessee, Xavier (where he visited), Virginia, Marquette Boston College, Providence and Rutgers.

Heath and Thompson were constants at Welsh's AAU game this summer with him shining at Nike, leading his Boo Williams team to a Nike Peach Jam title and then capping off the summer by averaging 25 points and Super Showcase in Orlando.

Rated as the 98th best prospect nationally by Scout.com had 38 points in one game, showing off his 3-point and mid-range games in the process.

"The thing I learned about Stefan is that he's a relationship guy," Hargrave head coach Kevin Keatts said. "Coach Thompson and Coach Heath really did a good job with him this summer being at as many games as they could be and he felt comfortable with them."

Keatts said that Arkansas made it clear how big a priority Welsh was for them.

"From the start to the end (Arkansas) showed that he was a priority for them and they never wavered," Keatts said. "That was big in his eyes – how much they really wanted him."

It helped that current Arkansas star Ronnie Brewer was Welsh's counselor at the Nike All-America camp this summer and Washington was on his team.

"...Ronnie Brewer was my counselor at Nike and Michael Washington - who was on my team and is going to play there - told me all about what a great place Arkansas is and how I need to go there," Welsh said. "They can't say enough about how great a place it is and I am anxious to see myself."

Welsh will now visit officially visit Arkansas on either Sept. 2-4 or Sept. 9-11 when the Razorbacks have home football weekends.

Ironically he was also a football standout last season , but has chosen to only play hoops now.

"They told me they want me to come in and play my game and help pick up the tempo and style of play there," Welsh said. "I will be a combo guard and someone who can help led the pack. We are going to be really, really good in the future."

In fact, Welsh says he will begin recruiting 6-6, 210-pound forward and new teammate Tyler Smith - a former Tennessee signee - for Arkansas as soon as he get to Hargrave, a school that sent the Razorbacks current center Darian Townes as well.

"That's the plan," Welsh said. "I want him to come with me and I know he is interested in Arkansas. Maybe I'll get to bring him along."

Welsh, who is currently in Newport News, will leave for Hargrave on Aug. 22.

"I'm expecting a great year and now that I am going to be a Razorback and know that for sure, I think it's going to make it even better," Welsh said. "There was no reason to hold back because it is where I wanted to go."

Dave Telep of Scout.com contributed to this story.


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