Friday, July 1, 2016

Quadir Welton ready to build on breakout season for Saint Peter's

Quadir Welton continues to peak at most opportune time for Saint Peter's, and Peacocks are counting on one more elite year as he attempts to continue last season's success. (Photo by Saint Peter's University Athletics)

Even though he is about to enter his senior season, Quadir Welton is still not a household name in basketball circles by and large around the metropolitan area.

The unfortunate part of his relative anonymity, though, is that if you did not get to see what the Philadelphia native did for Saint Peter's last season, you certainly missed out on a magnificent season that emerged as not just a feel-good story in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, but more so a validation of what his potential has always been since his first game in a Peacocks uniform.

"I would say he was probably the most improved player in our conference last year," head coach John Dunne said of Welton, whose averages of 12.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game were good enough to earn him second team all-MAAC honors. What stands out even more in those numbers, already eye-catching on paper, was that Welton posted them on the heels of offseason surgery to repair a torn meniscus, leaving him almost no time to get himself in shape for the 14-win campaign Saint Peter's went on to enjoy.

"He did that with virtually no offseason conditioning," Dunne revealed. "He basically just got cleared when we started to practice last year, so the fact that he's had this entire spring, I'm looking forward to the next seven or eight weeks to continue to get stronger, continue to work on his skill work. We're excited to see what he brings to the table as a senior, and I think he's going to play at a really high level."

A healthy Welton at 100 percent, not to mention the subtle point guard play of Trevis Wyche and emergence of Antwon Portley after one of the better freshman seasons for any Peacock in Dunne's decade-long tenure in Jersey City, are just some of the reasons why the optimism at Saint Peter's is as high as it has been since the program's NCAA Tournament run in 2011. Furthermore, in Welton, the Peacocks have a true two-way player; one who is obviously big on his offensive exploits, but just as cognizant of the selfless mentality his coach preaches on both sides of the basketball.

"What's great about Q is he's not always worried about scoring," said Dunne. "He's a very willing passer, too. His conditioning is getting a lot better as we go along this offseason as well, so we're really looking forward to seeing what he's capable of doing this year."

"He's putting the ball in the basket now, and he's getting better at that every year," Dunne further stated. "This past season, especially the second half of the year, I thought he did a great job putting it in the basket for us, and then also making free throws. He's really acquired a nice soft touch at the free throw line, too. For the most part, he's been right-hand dominant, but he's working hard on his weak hand and going over his right shoulder."

Traditionally guard-heavy over the years, the MAAC will be no stranger to star players in the paint this season. The likes of Siena's Brett Bisping and Javion Ogunyemi, first and second team all-MAAC selections, respectively; as well as Jordan Washington of Iona and the physically imposing tandem of Chris Brady and Zac Tillman at Monmouth, will undoubtedly be prime targets in MAAC coaches's scouting reports this season. Welton will be on that list as well, and if his coach's bullish feelings four months before the opening tip in November are any indication, the cocoon that has formed around him in his first three years is on the verge of blossoming into the colorful butterfly that Saint Peter's anticipated they would have on the floor by the time his career concludes.

"I think he's going to be a guy who can score over both shoulders, and also put the ball on the floor a little bit," a prescient Dunne proposed. "He's really improved his dribble-drive game, as well as being able to pass off the dribble. Certainly, after finishing with a second team all-league vote last year, I think he'll be one of those guys up for first team next year."

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