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The IExcel club in New York is relatively new, but the program had a strong reputation from the very beginning. The IExcel president is Walter Welsh, one of the most respected leaders in girls travel basketball.
“Walter has been in the game for a long time, and he is just a first class guy,” said Bret McCormick, the veteran analyst for the All Star Girls Report. “He is running a great program at IExcel now, and through the years he has put many, many kids into college. Walter does it the right way — he puts the players first. It’s not about Walter, it’s about getting those kids into college.
“Plus, Walter has developed a great rapport with the college coaches. He has their trust, and that makes a huge difference.”
Welsh has been in the game for over 25 years. The names have changed, and the summer game has changed to a degree, but the goal has remained the same.
“We always have two goals,” Welsh said. “We want to help these kids improve their skills, and when they are done in our program we want to help them get a college scholarship to the school of their choice.”
The IExcel roster for 2015 will include a number of outstanding athletes who will have plenty of college choices. Their first major appearance will come at the 2015 Deep South Classic, which will be played in Raleigh, NC on April 24-26. The Deep South Classic, which annually features the nation’s top travel programs, will once again have the entire tournament in one facility — the tremendous Raleigh Convention Center.
“We are definitely looking forward to being back at the Deep South Classic,” Welsh said. “I actually coached a team that won the first Deep South Classic, way back in 1999 when they played in Birmingham. It’s always been a great event, and when they put the whole tournament under one roof that was fantastic. Now the college coaches can easily move from one game to another, so they know they will be able to see everyone.”
Those coaches will be watching IExcel closely this summer. Welsh has three superb prospects in the 2016 class, including Jocelyn Willoughby (6-0, G, rated at No. 5 in the class by ASGR), Desiree Elmore (5-11, G, No. 36) and Abby Laszewski (6-3, F, No. 167). Elmore has verbally committed to Syracuse, and Laszewski recently announced that she would play at Wisconsin.
“Jocelyn is a tough, strong kid, and her motor is always on ‘Go’,” Welsh said. “She has been working hard on her shooting range, and now she is a 6-0 guard who can do a lot of different things. Jocelyn is also a high academic kid.
“Desiree is a do-it-all player who can post you up or step outside. She has turned herself into a top level talent. Abby is a new player for us, and I told her she reminds me of Alvin Adams, the old Phoenix Suns’ player. Of couse, she just said, ‘Who?’ Abby is a tall, lanky player with great hands and great intangibles. She is a multi-positional player who does a lot of things like a European player.”
IExcel also has talent in the younger classes. Three of the most watched athletes will by Jordan Nixon (2018, 5-7, PG), Kiyae White (2017, 6-2, F, No. 73) and Tia Montagne (2017, 5-7, CG).
“Jordan played up with us last year, and we’re super excited about what she can do this year,” Welsh said. “She is a tremendous talent, and I think she will have a break out year. She is a very vocal point guard who knows how to get the ball to the right people in the right places.
“Kiyae is a lanky athlete who is developing a perimeter game. She is already great around the basket. It’s Kiyae’s athelticism that really stands out. Tia ran our team for us last year, and she has made tremendous progress. I’m very excited about seeing what Tia can do this year.”