Waterford’s Welch earns postseason basketball honor

Times file photo Waterford’s Jordan Welch (13) handles the ball during a high school boys basketball game against Trimble this season.

COLUMBUS — Many young basketball players grow up wanting to be like Mike, as in Michael Jordan.

Jordan Welch wanted to be like Evan French.

Welch, who was named first team All-Ohio in Division IV Monday, was a fan of French coming into high school and wanted to emulate his game after the former Warren High School star.

“That was the guy you wanted to be around here,” said Welch, who earned All-Ohio honors for the second straight season. He was named to the second team as a junior. “I got to work out with him some. I knew if I could be like French, I was doing pretty good.”

Head coach Tom Simms was thrilled to learn Welch was recognized by the state.

“That’s great,” Simms said. “We talked when he was a freshman about what was in front of him. He always watched Evan French and wanted to try to play like Evan did. I said, ‘Listen, he put the time in and you’ve got to put the time in too.’ A lot of times those two were in the gym together.”

All Welch’s hard work paid off this winter as he and the Wildcats enjoyed one of the most successful seasons in program history. Waterford went undefeated in Tri-Valley Conference play and also claimed sectional and district championships before bowing out in regional play.

During regular season play, Welch averaged 14.2 points per game, 8.6 rebounds, four assists, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks. He shot 41 percent from the floor and scored a career-high 32 points against Wahama late in the season.

“I can’t say enough about him,” Simms said. “The month of February was unbelievable for him.

“Jordan could play inside, outside, on the wing — he was running point in February. We moved Isaac (Huffman) to a different position and Jordan was able to take the point.”

Welch, who wants to play college basketball but is undecided where he’ll play, is the epitome of a team player.

“He’s unselfish,” Simms said. To complement Welch, Waterford had two players averaging 11 points per game, one with nine per game and another with eight. With such a balanced lineup, Welch didn’t have to put up extraordinary numbers, but still received plenty of attention. He was named to the North-South All-Star team, District 12 Player of the Year and D-IV Southeast District Player of the Year.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Welch admitted. “I don’t worry too much about the individual stuff, but it’s pretty exciting.”

Welch’s teammate Huffman was an honorable mention All-Ohio pick, as was Frontier senior Wyatt Smitley. Belpre senior Deijon Bedgood earned special mention honors. The Division II and III teams are scheduled to be released today.