1. Big man on campus
If you see 7-foot California center Thomas Welsh walking around Boulder, give him a high, high five. The Los Angeles (Loyola High School) big man, No. 40 in the video above, is reportedly in the midst of an unofficial visit with Tad Boyle's Colorado men's basketball team and the Buffs are in the mix for one of the West's top prospects for the 2014 recruiting class. Welsh's teammate Parker Jackson-Cartwright, No. 3 in the video, has already committed to Arizona. Thomas isn't the only Welsh at Loyola, as his younger brother Henry (6-8) is also on the team.
Welsh is listed at 240 pounds by Rivals and is their No. 67 prospect in the country for 2014. Scout has him at 245 pounds and ranks him as the No. 10 center. Both recruiting services have tabbed Welsh as a four-star recruit.
Scout's profile on Welsh read, "Over the course of his high school career, Thomas Welsh has made advancements to his game. Standing 7-feet tall, he's turned into a terrific rebounder and because of his size he impacts the game as a presence in the paint. He contests shots and defends the post well. Offensively he has developed a very good mid-range jump shot. He also has a great set of hands and a nice jump hook over his left shoulder."
The Pac-12 is heavily represented in Welsh's reported offers with Arizona State, California, UCLA and USC joining Colorado in the quest to sign the Loyola center. Also chasing Welsh is perennial Top 25 and West coast powerhouse Gonzaga. UCLA appears to be a frontrunner, but Welsh has said all teams are still even.
The addition of Welsh to the Buffs 2014 class would a huge land, literally and figuratively, for Boyle and company. Colorado's only commitment for 2014 came from in-state standout Dominique Collier of Denver East back in May.
If you do bump into the Southern California giant Welsh, be sure not to mention this posterizing dunk Colorado's Xavier Johnson threw down during his prep days.
Another men's hoops note
ESPN's Insider Miles Simon has the Buffs at No.2 in the Pac-12 power rankings. According to Simon, the Buffs will be chasing the Arizona Wildcats for conference supremacy. Colorado's blurb read:
"Tad Boyle has done one of the best coaching jobs in the nation over the past three seasons. He took the Buffaloes to an NIT Final Four and back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances. In doing so, he has really raised the level of expectations in Boulder and this season the Buffaloes are one of the favorites to win the conference. Despite losing the nation's second-leading rebounder to the NBA draft in Andre Roberson, Colorado's roster could be as deep as it has ever been. The team will be led by 6-6 point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who is an excellent passer, can score when needed and is the team's best defender. His backcourt mate is Askia Booker, a pure scorer. If he can be more selective in his shot attempts, Booker will become a much more effective player.
Xavier Johnson had a tremendous freshman season -- especially once he was inserted into the starting lineup -- and is expected to have a much bigger role on this team. He has the capability of leading the Buffaloes in scoring and rebounding. Sophomore center Josh Scott is arguably the best back-to-the-basket player in the league, as he is ambidextrous when he gets the ball on the block. With added strength, he will become more of a threat down low.
Boyle had the luxury of redshirting two guys in Wesley Gordon and Chris Jenkins last season. Both should now be the benefactors of Roberson's departure, considering they are expected to see more significant minutes in 2013-14. Incoming recruits Tre'Shaun Fletcher and Dustin Thomas are both talented enough to contribute as freshmen."
2. Top 10 in Internet age
Back to the subject of recruiting, the SB Nation's Pacific Takes writes today about the "Top 10 players to sign with Colorado during the Internet age." At the top is Darrell Scott, who we all know didn't exactly pan out in Black and Gold. Current Buffaloes Yuri Wright (No. 7) and Paul Richardson (9) land on the list. One can hope (or dream) Falcon High School 2014 stud target Kalen Ballage is on the list next year.
Athlon Sports posted a story this week where Pac-12 football coaches spoke anonymously about their conference foes. The coaches had the following to say about Colorado:
"They have a lot of needs that they have to fix. They hired a good football coach in Mike MacIntyre. I really believe that. He can really coach. He's a good offensive mind and will put players in the best position to succeed. But they have a long ways to go, that's for sure. Let's not sugarcoat it. Unless the young players they had grow up in a hurry, this could be a project. They haven't been significant there in awhile."
"Defensively, nothing really scares you there. They are big and strong at a few positions, but overall they will need more team speed to keep up with the offenses in the Pac-12."
"When we played them, it was pretty ugly all around. That's how it was for them a lot of games last year. When Colorado was great, they were winning in the California recruiting scene. That's just hard to do now with so many competitive teams around there, but it can be done."
"The recruiting just hasn't panned out for them in recent years. They aren't winning the best players in Colorado, either. They need players."
Bonus points if you can match the coach with the comment. It's anonymous though so we'll never know.
4. If they build it ...
Colorado State's on-campus football stadium is getting closer to becoming a reality. Bids are being accepted to build the potential 40,000-plus seat stadium and a winner is expected to be announced in September. CSU athletic director Jack Graham has said the private funding portion ($112.5M) for the $246M project will be secured by next fall. If all goes well, the Rams new home would open in 2016.
Convincing the sharply-divided Fort Collins that the stadium is a good idea is another subject. If they build it, will the Rams fans come? Colorado State ranked 102/126 last season with an average attendance of 19,250. Colorado was No. 50 with 45,373 fans per contest. No. 1? That would be Michigan with an average 112,252 Wolverines faithful on football Saturdays.
Attrition for Pittsburgh's football program rages on with the departure of linebacker Todd Thomas. CBSSports reports "with Thomas leaving the team there are now 23 players who have left the team since the start of the 2012 season due to transfers, suspensions or dismissals." But wait, the website later reported Thomas has intentions of returning to the Panthers, but coach Paul Chryst has been mum on the subject.
The connection here for CU is of course the transfer of former Pittsburgh linebacker Deaysean Rippy, who tweeted yesterday about heading West. Maybe there's room in Boulder for Rippy's former teammate Thomas, another four-star recruit who appears to be unhappy at Pitt.