Not only did Anoka-Ramsey Community College freshman Joey Weldon receive his first division player of the week honors, but the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) added Player of the Week to his growing list of accolades after an impressive first week of December.
Weldon, a St. Paul native, averaged a double-double (17.5 points and 19.5 rebounds per game) in back-to-back Minnesota Collegiate Athletic Conference (MCAC) wins against Northland Community and Technical College and Itasca Community College in Coon Rapids, Dec. 6-7.
He grabbed 26 rebounds and had 15 points against Itasca. He had 20 points and 13 rebounds against Northland.
As an encore, Weldon pulled down 21 rebounds and a game-high 31 points in a 94-84 win at Hibbing Community College Dec. 13. Additionally, he had three steals and blocked two shots to bring his season totals to 14 blocks and seven steals in nine contests.
The Golden Rams moved to 8-1 overall with a 97-80 win at Rainy River Community College Dec. 14. Weldon had eight points and seven rebounds.
Anoka-Ramsey plays with a four-post, one-guard offense given the team’s personnel. Coach Ron Larson said Weldon’s role on the team has been to clean up the boards and provide an inside presence for a team that lacks a big inside body.
“He’s nifty around the basket,” Larson said. “He has great timing on when to go after the ball. He’s a little bit of Dennis Rodman or Kevin Love in his approach to being in the right place at the right time when a shot goes up. He’s got some natural ability and instincts.”
According to Larson, Weldon’s raw instincts combined with his work ethic and understanding of his role on the team is what really is leading to his success.
During a conversation before leaving for the contest at Hibbing, Weldon was quick to deflect the spotlight from himself to teammates and coaches.
“I accept my role on the team and at the end of the day, it’s a team game,” Weldon said. “All I care about is the [win] at the end of the day.”
He said that his team-first mentality comes from his grandmother who taught him to be humble at all times. “No great person has done things by themselves. What is truly success without sharing it with somebody,,” Weldon said.
He is averaging 17.6 points and 13.7 rebounds, while shooting 68 percent from the field through Dec. 14.
With Weldon collecting more than 20 rebounds twice in December, teams will only continue to key on him around the basket. “Teams try to double team the box out when they shoot or when my team shoots the ball,” Weldon said of the added attention from the opposition that opens chances for his teammates.
Looking back on the first half of the season, he said a seven-point loss to North Dakota State College of Science, Nov. 23 as the personal highlight so far. NDSCS came into the game beating teams by 40 points or more. Anoka-Ramsey held NDSCS to a then season-low 85 points in an 85-78 score.
NDSCS is averaging 89 points through 14 games but Weldon said the Rams stood up to the challenge. “We basically looked like the underdogs and if we were more fundamental in the last three-four minutes [of the game] we could’ve pulled it out,” he said. “Good thing is that we have a second chance to get them on our home court.”
Developing relationships in a community college program might seem difficult given the reality of a two-year program. Most of the team spent the summer in open gym sessions in addition to summer courses. Now, most of the team shares classes, which makes it that much easier “to watch out for each other” away from the court,” Weldon said.
Jason Olson is at