After two stints with NBA teams and a year in Belgium, a former Bruin has a new home.
Thomas Welsh became a fan favorite during his four years with UCLA men’s basketball, later being drafted by the Denver Nuggets with the No. 58 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. On Friday, Welsh signed a deal with the New Taipei Kings for their upcoming season in the P. League+.
Welsh joins New Taipei following the league’s creation in 2020. Taiwan had not had a professional basketball league since 1999.
Each team is allowed three foreign players apiece, and Welsh will fill one of the slots for the Kings.
It has been a journey for Welsh so far in his professional basketball career. Starting on a two-way contract after being drafted by Denver, the Bruin was waived and spent his next season in the G-League within the Charlotte Hornets’ system.
After the Redondo Beach native’s two years in the NBA, Welsh moved overseas to play for Filou Oostende in the Pro Basketball League. Welsh saw solid playing time in Belgium, scoring 10.3 points per game, with 5.8 rebounds and shooting 67.2% from the field.
The 3-point shot Bruins’ fans saw Welsh develop in his senior season is still utilized by the 7-foot big man, averaging two to three attempts from beyond the arc per game in professional basketball.
The head coach of the Kings, Ryan Marchand, was one of Welsh’s coaches on the Iowa Wolves in the G-League. A press release from New Taipei lists one of the big man’s reasonings for heading east was his relationship with Marchand.
As of now, foreign players and coaches are unable to enter Taiwan, but the team expressed that they hope to integrate Welsh and others “as soon as possible.”
Across his final three years as UCLA’s full-time starting center, Welsh averaged 11.6 points and 9.4 rebounds per game in 96 appearances.
Time will tell how Welsh plays in this new team, league and environment, but a good performance could lead him back stateside in the coming years.