FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas basketball coach Stan Heath picked up two recruits on Thursday as forward Michael Washington and combo guard Stefan Welsh completed the national letter of intent forms and will play for the Razorbacks next season.
Washington is a former star at McGehee (Ark.) High School and Welsh is a guard at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va.
Washington, a 6-10, 230-pounder, prepped at McGehee, moved to Texas and played last year, and is now at Genesis One Christian School in Mendenhall, Miss.
“Michael has a tremendous upside,” Heath says. “He could be the prototype power forward.”
Welsh, a 6-3, 180-pounder, prepped at Newport News (Va.) Woodside High School before going to Hargrave this year.
“He comes from a winning program,” Heath says. “He won two state championships as a sophomore and junior in high school, and now he attends one of the top prep schools in the country. He’s a very talented scorer.”
Washington played last year at Cleveland (Texas) Heritage Christian and was ranked the No. 1 junior in Texas by one recruiting service after averaging 26 points, 14 rebounds, eight blocked shots, four assists and three steals for a 23-9 squad. He shot 78 percent from the field and 79 percent from the line. Rivals.com rates him as the No. 23 player in the 2006 class and the No. 5 power forward. He is listed as the No. 71 prospect in the nation by Scout.com and No. 106 by Basketball Times.
A 2004 all-state selection in Arkansas and a 2005 all-state selection in Texas, he signed with the Hogs after also being recruited by North Carolina, Illinois, Arizona, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Oklahoma and Baylor, among others.
“He has good size and length, and could continue to add to his 230-pound frame,” Heath says. “He has good face-up skills, is a good athlete and is very aggressive. As he continues to hone his skills, he has the chance to be a very special player in our conference.”
At the International Sports Invitational in San Diego this past summer, he played for the USA Youth Development Festival Blue Team. He averaged 8.5 points and five rebounds in four games, helping his team go 3-1 and win the silver medal. He shot 64.7 percent from the floor and (11-17) and 57.9 percent at the line (11-19).
At McGehee (Ark.) High School, he averaged 21.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.2 blocked shots, 1.7 assists and 1.2 steals on a 15-15 team.
Welsh averaged 20 points as a senior at Woodside. Rated the No. 69 player in the nation by Basketball Times and No. 98 by Scout.com, he signed with UA after also considering Xavier, Virginia, Marquette, Tennessee, Boston College, Providence and Rutgers.
“In addition to being a talented scorer, he’s a good defender and playmaker,” Heath says. “The big adjustment for Stefan will be adding strength and tailoring his skills to playing both guard positions, but we expect him to contribute and make an impact.”
During the summer, Welsh averaged 25 points a game in the Super Showcase in Orlando after leading his team to the Nike Peach Jam title.