After going the entire first half without scoring a point, Los Angeles Loyola's 7-foot center Thomas Welsh went on a scoring binge in the second half against Santa Monica in the state semifinal game on March 16, finally tying things up at 50-50 with 1:54 left.
But, with 29.7 seconds left, the Vikings set up one final play for California signee Jordan Mathews, and the three-star guard responded by nailing a three with two seconds left to lift Santa Monica to a 53-50 win, ousting Welsh and the Cubs from the state playoffs.
There aren't any hard feelings between Welsh and the Bears, though. If anything, the 7-foot, 245-pounder has become even more intrigued with Mike Montgomery's program over the past few months.
"(Richard) Solomon and (Robert) Thurman, they're improving their big guys," Welsh said. "They build them up throughout the season, and they get stronger towards the end, and by the playoffs, they were able to get the 12-5 upset, which was very big."
The Bears and Colorado are the two teams Welsh says have been in contact most frequently, with Cal assistant Gregg Gottlieb talking with him two to three times per week.
"It's big because it keeps you thinking about them, and it keeps them involved," Welsh said. "We just talk about regular stuff, nothing too spectacular."
Welsh said that he will "hopefully" get to visit the Berkeley campus some time within the next few months, but he made it a point to pay very close attention to how the Bears performed down the stretch, particularly how much Solomon matured, scoring a career-high 22 points and 14 rebounds against Syracuse in Cal's third-round NCAA Tournament exit.
"It's very intriguing," Welsh said. "That's definitely a very important factor in where I make my college decision, just having a chance to improve myself as a basketball player, and seeing what they've done with the bigs they have right now, it's very impressive. It shows a lot about the coaches there."
Welsh finished the season averaging 12.75 points per game, 2.9 blocks and 10.8 rebounds, and got to spend the final days of the campaign alongside his younger brother -- 6-foot-8, 205-pound freshman Henry Welsh -- who was called up from junior varsity for the playoff run.
"There were a couple other JV guys that got pulled up, as well, and they just come up to sit on the bench and practice. They didn't get a chance to play in a game, but it was definitely fun," said the elder Welsh.
With offers from Cal, Arizona State, Portland, Santa Clara and USC, the three-star 2014 prospect's recruitment has so far served as a useful guide for his younger brother.
"I think that he's definitely paying attention to it, and I think it'll really help him when it's his turn," Thomas said. "He'll have a little experience seeing how it's happening with me, so he'll know what's coming, a little bit."
Welsh Talking Frequently With Bears
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