Despite rumors that he had committed to the Oregon Ducks over the weekend, Fresno State’s seven-foot center Robert Upshaw has committed to the University of Washington. After sitting out a season per NCAA transfer rules, he will have three years of eligibility.
According to our own Kevin Cacabelos, it has been rumored that Oregon did not have a scholarship available. That may or may not have been the final determining factor in his decision to go with the Huskies, but nonetheless, he is a Dawg.
Upshaw has had some discipline issues during his time with the Fresno State Bulldogs, having been suspended twice during his freshman year. "I went through a tough period at Fresno State," Upshaw told ESPN.com. "I had some maturity problems and didn't focus on what was in front of me. It all made me realize that I need to focus on what's important. I love the game."
He was a four-star recruit coming out of high school in Fresno, reportedly with offers from several Pac-12 schools including UW, in addition to Georgetown and the current national champion Louisville Cardinals. He decided to stay local and committed to Fresno State.
As a true freshman last year, Upshaw didn’t exactly look good on the offensive end, to put it lightly. He shot 37.8 percent from the field last season. None of those were threes. His post-up game was finally starting to gain traction his senior year in high school, but it must have hit a rough patch, his knee may have continued bothering him, or his offense just plain wasn’t ready for the next level.
Offensively, what he can do it catch a lob pass in the lane. His hands were considered one of if not his absolute biggest strength offensively. Working all season with Shawn Kemp Jr. and Perris Blackwell will probably force him to at least somewhat develop a post game, as Blackwell was known for his presence down low, while Kemp has developed a solid post game centered around his jump hook.
Many see him as a replacement for Aziz N’Diaye. What N’Diaye was best at was shot-blocking and rebounding – his pick-n-roll defense developed well as his time with Washington went on as well. Shot-blocking and rebounding are the two best traits that Upshaw brings, only with better hands than N’Diaye. Much better hands.
In only about seventeen minutes per game in his 22 games Upshaw almost averaged two blocks per game (1.8 to be exact). He had a 12.1 percent block rate. Had he qualified it would have ranked him as the 15th best eraser in the country as a freshman. Not among freshmen, but as a freshman. Shot blocking is one of the most difficult skills to coach; Lorenzo Romar wants a shot-sender-backer in the middle and now he has one of the best.
In a nutshell, Upshaw is a long, athletic big man who is very raw and has had some character issues in the past. The fact that he is able to admit that he had an issue is a step in the right direction. Some players are never able to figure it out. UW could be looking at an impact player and potential star (if everything breaks perfectly) for three seasons. UW could also be looking at someone who never touches the court during the game, leaving or being dismissed before he laces up his kicks.
If you have any questions, hit up Kevin on twitter, he knows a fair amount about this guy.