Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint.
By David Cordova
Every season in New York City, there is that one guard on the high school scene that takes over on the court and is able to hold their own and makes strong statements on the court. But also, there’s a chance that the player in question may still be a lightly-recruited talent.
Kareem Welch was one of the city’s best talents in the PSAL in the last two seasons and has been showcased his scoring ability at Thomas Jefferson High School in the East New York section of Brooklyn and has made quite a name for himself with his ability to dominate the game.
The 6-foot-2 shooting guard is still unsigned even though he is graduating from Jefferson this month. But then again, what should not be neglected is the fact that he is a hidden gem that college coaches are missing out on at the present moment. But then again, if he goes the prep school route or the junior college route, he will be able to attract attention from coaches on the Division I level sometime soon.
When asked what motivates him to be successful on the court, he replied, “Well, basically, the drive, my hood, everyone doubted me, you know, just grind every year, get to the top, to where I’m at today.”
Welch hails from Canarsie section of Brooklyn and is always ready for battle on the court. In a borough like Brooklyn, toughness is everything. When asked about the culture of basketball in his home borough, he replied, “Brooklyn basketball is competitive, that’s where I got all my grind and grit from, so that’s how I feel.”
In these last couple of seasons, Welch has been one of the keys of the Jefferson offense, as he was the hot shooter for the Orange Wave. As a junior, he averaged 16.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game and led Jefferson to a 21-8 record and berth in the PSAL semifinals.
All in all, Welch had a very positive and great experience during his time at Thomas Jefferson. When asked about his time with the Orange Wave, he replied, “It was a good four-year experience, you know, wish we out with a bang as a champ, but you know, life lessons, you know, you gotta keep working. But the four years was great, you know, had good friends, you know, worked hard you know, everything was good.”
This past season, as a senior, it would prove to be a revelation, as Welch was on a scoring tear. In one game this season, he scored 64 points against Paul Robeson on December 9th. This season was one for the ages, as a he averaged 36.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game and helped lead Jefferson to a 23-8 record and a berth in the PSAL championship game at Madison Square Garden, where they would lose a very close game, 71-70, to borough rivals, South Shore.
On his senior season, he added: “Well, I just worked hard in the summer, offseason, did what I had to do, came out in the beginning of the year, averaging 50 points in the season, so I just credit all of that to my hard work and dedication and where I’m at today.”
On the experience of playing on a hallowed court such as Madison Square Garden for the PSAL championship game despite the loss, he added: “When I first got on the Garden floor, I had butterflies, the light was very, very bright and I ain’t know if I was going to play well, but as you see I did my thing.”
When asked about the strengths and weaknesses in his game, “Strengths is passing, rebounding, shooting, dribbling. My weaknesses is my strength, if I get my strength up, nobody’s going to stop me.”
At the present time, Welch is still unsigned to a college. When asked about being lightly-recruited, “I just want to go to the right school, it don’t matter if it’s a prep school or JUCO or a D-I college, I just want to go to the right school that’s going to put me in a system where I’m going to shine.”
When asked what would a school have to have to land his services, Welch replied, “I feel like the offensive game should be run, very, very fast. I like to run in transition, I like to get out, that’s how I create, that’s how I make things go, that’s how I make people go.”
This spring, having never played AAU basketball before, he played for the New York Dragons, a Bronx-based program that plays on independent circuits and league such as Hoop Group and Elevate Hoops. In an event in Marietta, Georgia named Terrific 24 in April, Welch played very well.
When asked about playing AAU for the Dragons, he replied, “Playing with them so far, it’s been okay, you know, it was my first session with them, it didn’t go as well as planned, but I’m going to still keep working.”
This summer, Welch will be playing on the playground scene with the Brooklyn Stompers in various tournaments such as West 4thStreet, Dyckman and Gersh Park. And also, he will be playing in the live period with the Dragons. As far as his future prospects concerning school, that remains a mystery. Only time will tell where he lands, but wherever he ends up at, a coach will be landing a special talent.
When asked about how he wants to be remembered for his time at Jefferson, he replied, “I just want to be remembered as a hard-working, dedicated person who wasn’t basically, the known one in my 10thand 11th-grade year, no one knew who I was, feel me? I like to be under-the-radar, because it boosts my motivation and dedication to the games, I feel like that’s the way to be.”
“Whatever’s next is very, very bright for me,” he said, “[It] don’t matter where I go, I know that I’m going to be doing my thing, as I always do, I gotta put that work in.”
College coaches, people everywhere, remember the name Kareem Welch.