Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
It’s always a special moment when Division I recruits sign their binding National Letters of Intent.
The ceremony was just a little more meaningful at the Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School on a cold Tuesday afternoon.
Three young men, surrounded by dozens friends and family, put their pens to paper and accepted their three scholarships. When they did, Britton Lee, Jeremiah Worthem and Quadir Welton became the first students in the eight-year history of MCS’ basketball program to take that next step.
“Excitement, high emotion,” was how MCS coach Dan Jackson said he felt about watching those three seniors accept their scholarships. “Just feel privileged that I was able to coach these guys and help them achieve this level of achievement for their lives.”
Welton, a 6-foot-8 forward/center, signed with St. Peter’s University in Jersey City, while the 5-10 point guard Lee and 6-6 forward Worthem both will start their college careers at Robert Morris University outside of Pittsburgh. Each was joined at the main table by a relative: Welton with his mother, Nicole Tabb; Worthem with his grandmother, Esther Elder; Lee with his father, Elliott.
“It’s very emotional, just happy for everybody,” said Worthem, who was the last of the three to commit back on October 18. “Happy to see my friends grow up, we all grew up together, just happy to see everybody make it. Division I is a great jump, it’s a first step for all of us, we just have to continue working, but emotionally just so happy for everybody, just to see everybody’s parents up there.”
For Worthem and Welton, who’ve been at the school for a number of years, getting a chance to be a part of the school’s first-ever Division I class certainly wasn’t lost on them.
“Yes, it makes it very special,” said Welton, though like many others in attendance he was hoping two others would be up there with him. “Shows that we made a big accomplishment and soon, when Shafeek (Taylor) and Jeff (Powell) commit, we’ll be the first public league team to have five Division I players.”
“It’s definitely special,” Worthem said. “The school’s been open for a couple years now, had a couple good runs, but for us to be the first to actually go Division I is a big accomplishment for the school. It’s gonna help them recruit kids over the next few years and produce good players, it just feels good for everybody.”
For Lee, a recent transfer from Roman Catholic, getting a chance to sign alongside someone he’ll likely be spending quite a few seasons with made the day just that much more exciting.
“It gives you a good feeling, being comfortable with that player,” he said about Worthem, “because you play with him for one year and you go with him to college already being like family.”
Worthem said that the pairs’ relationship has already changed over the few weeks since Lee arrived at school, especially now that they’ll be continuing with that bond in college.
“Britton is now like another brother to me. I’m pretty much with him for the next five, six years,” he said. “I mean, days in practice where you feel like you don’t wanna work, don’t feel like working hard, he’ll push you. He’s always working, always there for you, it’s really great teaming up with him and I’m looking forward to it.”
Despite Worthem’s commitment just a few weeks after Lee arrived, the point guard said he had let his new teammate make his college decision for himself.
“I know they were recruiting him,” he said. “I put a little bit in him but I couldn’t do so much, but he came on his decision on his own. I was just excited and I couldn’t wait.”
Lee and Worthem take the court as teammates for the first time when Math, Civics and Sciences begins their season on Dec. 7, taking on Kensington HS on their home court at 19th + Girard.