Talking Playoffs

Three-star center Thomas Welsh spent Monday evening speaking with Cal assistant Gregg Gottlieb, but it wasn't just college hoops they gabbed about.

California assistant basketball coach Gregg Gottlieb has been busy this week, sharing a long conversation with Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei five-star Stanley Johnson on Monday and, on Wednesday, gabbing with three-star center Thomas Welsh.

"We talked for about 10 minutes, and the majority of what we talked about was the Spurs-Warriors series," Welsh said. "I'm rooting for the Spurs, but Coach wasn't too happy about that one."

Despite his questionable loyalties, the Bears are still high on the 7-footer, being the first to offer Welsh before Portland, Santa Clara, Arizona State and USC jumped in.

"I've been talking to [Cal] pretty often, I'd say probably around once a week, once every two weeks," said Welsh, who rated the Bears as one of the teams recruiting him the hardest.

Since initially being offered in late November, Welsh has developed a strong rapport with the seventh-year Cal assistant.

"I think it's a very good relationship," Welsh said. "We're still building it, but I think it's very good right now."

The AAU circuit is consuming most of Welsh's time at the moment, but he's aiming at checking out several campuses over the summer, with Cal being one of the destinations in his sights.

"It's definitely still very intriguing," Welsh said. "It's definitely one of the schools and the teams that has everything that I'm looking for in a college. It's a very strong academic and athletic school."

Welsh is maintaining a 3.7 GPA this semester, and plans on taking the SAT on June 1, meeting with a tutor once a week to make sure that he knocks it out of the park.

"I want to get as high a score as I can get," Welsh said.

Recently, the Trojans have upped their level of contact with Welsh, but he still doesn't have a list of top contenders.

"To be honest, I'm considering all the options," Welsh said. "I think I'm going to come out with it later down the line, but I don't have much right now."

Welsh's height and wingspan are his two most striking traits, but he's also a court technician, working hard on the little things to expand his game.

"I think that [Cal] wants to see me improve my footwork and agility, and that's one of the things that I'm trying to improve," Welsh said. "I'm also trying to work on my post moves and on my left-handed hook shot."

Welsh's go-to move down low has been his right-handed hook, but he wants to be even more dangerous when he gets to the next level.

"I prefer the right-handed hook shot because it's very hard to stop," Welsh said. "When I get up close in the low block, I can also go up underneath. It's hard to stop, especially when I can go to the jump hook or go up and under."

Welsh and the Los Angeles Rockfish will be practicing over the next two weekends, before heading to a tournament on Memorial Day weekend. Top Stories