It’s difficult for a 6-11 basketball phenom to be inconspicuous, but that’s exactly the approach Robert Upshaw has taken lately. And those around him say that’s good news for him and Washington.
His first year with the Huskies has been somewhat rocky. He sat out the 2013-14 season after transferring from Fresno State, but displayed tremendous promise in fall practices that had observers expecting a bright future for the&amp;amp;nbsp; 255-pound sophomore center.
Early in the season Upshaw was a constant presence at the end of the bench for home games. However, he missed a game or two midway in the season and was a no-show during the final weeks.
After the season, coach Lorenzo Romar was vague about Upshaw returning for the 2014-15 season.
Last month Romar was still unsure about Upshaw’s future.
(What’s the update with Robert Upshaw?) “Same.”
(What does that mean? “He’s going to school. And I feel stupid just saying the same thing over and over, but taking care of business off the court.”
(Do you expect him to be a part of the team next season?) “I don’t know.”
(I can’t think of a situation that you’ve had like this at UW.) “No we haven’t.”
(So then, how do you approach it?) “Like we’ve been approaching it. It’s on him. He has to make sure that he’s taking care of everything that he’s supposed to take care. All of his business is done in the right way. You know, you look at it later and see what’s going to happen.”
In recent weeks Upshaw has been playing pickup games with Washington and Seattle-area players at UW, according to sources.
“I’d never played with him before and I can tell you, he’s the real deal,” said a former UW player who asked not to be identified. “He’s a big man who can move. … It’s pickup so you don’t really know how a guy is, but he looked good to me.”
Hardly anyone questions Upshaw’s ability on the court. Those close to him wonder how much he really loves basketball.
At Fresno State, Upshaw was twice suspended before being dismissed by the team.
“I’ve always been taught that if you really love the game, then you don’t do anything to risk not playing,” said another former UW player who has played with Upshaw recently. “Some guys love the game and they’re gym rats. Just stay in the gym. But not everybody is that way.”
Opinions vary on if Upshaw will be on the team next season.
As one long-time Husky observer noted: “Each week that passes and we don’t hear anything about him, that’s good news for Washington.”
The spring quarter at Washington ends June 13. The first summer quarter starts June 23 and the second one begins July 24.
This summer figures to be an anxious time for UW fans.
With Upshaw, Washington may be able to bounce back from a disappointing 17-15 season in 2013-14 and contend for a NCAA tournament appearance. If he’s available, he’ll likely start in the middle alongside guards Nigel Williams-Goss, Andrew Andrews and forward Jernard Jarreau, who is returning from a knee injury.
Jon Rothstein at CBSsports.com put Upshaw on a list of the top five under-the-radar transfers. Rothstein writes: “A high-level recruit out of high school, Upshaw spent one season at Fresno State before transferring to Seattle to play for Lorenzo Romar and the Huskies. Despite battling off-the-court issues, Upshaw has the size (6-11), talent, and skill level to make an immediate impact next year for Washington in the pivot. The big man averaged 4.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks during the 2012-13 season.”
WEDNESDAY MORNING LINKS:
It’s been awhile since we did links. Plenty to get to around the Pac-12.
— Jeremy Hemsley will make his college decision Thursday, according to Josh Gershon at Scout.com. Hemsley, a 6-4 guard from La Verne, Calif., is a 2015 prospect. He’s considered a consensus four-star prospect by the major recruiting services. He’s reportedly considering Washington, San Diego State and Arizona State.
— Washington earned $19.8 million in 2012-13, according to Jon Wilner at the Mercury News.
— UCLA announced plans to build a $30-40 million practice facility, which is a game-changing move that will impact recruiting on the west coast. It never made any sense why the Bruins didn’t include a practice facility when they renovated Pauley Pavilion two years ago. For all of its tradition and mystic, UCLA never really lavished players with items that today’s generation enjoys such as basketball-only facilities. Coach Steve Alford, who is entering his second year with the Bruins, likely made sure the school would build a practice facility when he negotiated his deal.
— This makes absolutely no sense: The Pac-12 wants to restore freshmen ineligibility in men’s basketball only. In a letter sent to the four other major conferences, the Pac-12 called for sweeping chances to the current NCAA student-athlete model. Hardly anyone likes the NBA’s one-and-done rule, but eliminating freshman eligibility will drive marquee recruits away from the Pac-12. A few proposals include: Allowing schools to make scholarships equal the full cost of attendance, providing medical or insurance assistance for players who suffer an incapacitating injury in competition or practice, and making it lest restrictive for players to transfer.
— California guard Ricky Kreklow will transfer to Creighton. He spent two injury-prone seasons with the Golden Bears after transferring from Missouri.
— ESPN’s Myron Medcalf compiled a list of the so-called bad jobs in men’s basketball and Oregon State made the cut. Medcalf wrote: “Anything you can do, Nike U and Phil Knight can do better. Oregon is just 50 minutes from campus. It’s a sedan versus luxury car every year for the coach who leads Oregon State, a team that hasn’t been invited to the Big Dance since 1990.:
— Washington guard C.J. Wilcox might be the ideal fit for the Oklahoma City, which has the No. 29 pick in the first round of the NBA draft.