McDonald's: Thomas Welsh

CHICAGO - Thomas Welsh has made serious progression during his high school career and the result was an invitation to the McDonald's All-American Game in Chicago, where the 7-footer has more than held his own.

There may not be a better underdog story in the McDonald's All-American Game than that of Thomas Welsh.

The 7-foot, 245-pound center from Los Angeles Loyola spent the majority of his high school career away from the national spotlight and outside the radar of most elite programs.

However, Welsh used a terrific work ethic to go from nationally unknown to a McDonald's All-American headed to UCLA.

Heading into his high school career, this isn't exactly something Welsh was planning.

"It's not something I really thought about," Welsh said. "I guess I was always focused on team goals and doing whatever I could to help my team. "

While Welsh's hard work is a big reason why he's in Chicago for the McDonald's game, he also attributes much of his success to the people who have been around him.

"I think I've just been surrounded with great players and great coaches on both the Rockfish and Loyola," he said. "I've also tried to work as hard as I can to hit my potential. I'm going to keep working hard and hopefully keep getting better."

Welsh has shown up to the McDonald's All-American Game practices and more than held his own against some of the best players in the country, including top rated center Jahlil Okafor, who he's been consistently matched up with in practice.

"They're great players and I love going up against these guys," Welsh said. "I just wanted to come in here and do the best I can."

Since committing to UCLA in November, Welsh has kept in close contact with the Bruins staff and gained a better feel for how he'll fit into the program in Westwood.

"I really like the style of play and really like coach (Steve) Alford," he said. "I think I fit in well with the team and hopefully I make a big impact.

"I love the coaches and players. I think I fit in well. The (coaches) came to my games, I talked to them a lot and I'm really excited for the season."

There are a few aspects of the game that Welsh hopes to bring to the table to UCLA next season.

"I hope to rebound well, get points around the basket and do what I can to help the team win," he said.

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