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Even 14 years later, Stefan Welsh can still vividly recall the excitement he and his teammates at Hargrave Military Academy (Chatham, Va.) felt in early September in anticipation for what players refer to as “open gym season.”

It’s the time when the NCAA allows coaches to get back on the road after the summer and evaluate prospects at their high schools, typically during pick-up games in the afternoons and evenings.

“It’s a big deal,” said Welsh, who starred for the Tigers in 2006 before heading to Arkansas from 2006-10. “We literally had 20 coaches in the gym every day back then. A lot of my teammates picked up offers in those open gyms. It’s so important for these kids.”

Naturally, it was “troubling” for Welsh when the NCAA announced its fifth extension to the recruiting dead period, this time through September 30, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The extension effectively ends open gym season.

“There are so many talented players around the country who haven’t had the opportunity to earn scholarships this summer,” said Welsh, who went on to play professionally in Israel, Dominican Republic, China and Canada. “I had to do what I could for the players in my state, so I decided to start a league to help them out.”

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To that end, Welsh is launching the Seen Circuit to give players the opportunity to earn scholarships.

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Eighty-eight players across Virginia will make up eight teams and battle in three sessions in October and November with each game being livestreamed to hundreds of college coaches.

The Seen Circuit will allow players in Virginia a chance to be seen by colleges. (Photo: Welsh)

The Seen Circuit will allow players in Virginia a chance to be seen by colleges. (Photo: Welsh)

“We’re going to go above and beyond to make sure everyone will be safe and follow strict procedures at all sessions,” Welsh said. “This is all about giving these guys a chance. That’s all anyone can ask for.”

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Seen Circuit will host its first live draft on Instagram on September 11 from a pool of players who were exclusively invited to play.

Seen Circuit will utilize a 30-second shot clock and will put an emphasis on man-to-man defense, even implementing the defensive three-seconds rule that the NBA enforces.

“This is going to be really big for the players,” said Welsh, who now serves as head boys basketball coach at his alma mater Woodside (Newport News, Va.). “Everyone talks about the summer, but the reality is that September is often times the follow up. It’s when a lot of coaches go ahead and pull the trigger on that offer. 

"We’ll have a championship at the end of the sessions, but, to me, when a kid picks up an offer that’s a championship right there. I’m hoping we can get a lot of championships.”