Robert Upshaw is on the brink of making history at Washington.
The third-year sophomore center is one block away from moving into a three-way tie atop the school’s single season blocks list. At his current pace – he’s averaging 4.4 blocks per game – he’ll finish the regular season wiht 132 blocks. The UW record is 67.
So he’ll smash that mark.
The Pac-12 record is 133, which was set by Arizona State’s Jordan Bachynski last season. It’s a good bet Upshaw will reach that mark as well. But it’s pretty safe to assume he won’t get near the NCAA record of 207 that was set by David Robinson at Navy in 1985–86, which was coincidentally the first season that the NCAA kept track of blocked shots.
During his first year at UW, Upshaw has been better than advertised. He’s averaging 11.1 points and 7.5 rebounds as a reserve through 15 games.
He’s been so good that he’s drawn interest from NBA scouts.
DraftExpress.com tabs Upshaw as the No. 19 overall pick in the 2015 draft while NBAdraft.net projects he’ll be taken at No. 18 in the second round (48th overall) by the Utah Jazz, one spot below UW’s Nigel Williams-Goss.
An informal poll of eight NBA scouts gathered last week at the UW-California game suggests Upshaw isn’t likely to return to Washington next season. Four scouts said he’s likely to be drafted if he decides to leave school early, two weren’t sure and two declined to answer.
Upshaw says what most guys say when asked about their pro potential during the middle of their college season.
“It’s very flattering to hear that, it really is considering all that I’ve done to get to this point, but honestly man I’m just so focused on what’s ahead of me,” he said last week alluding to the Pac-12 season.
His mother Ceylon Sherman, a social worker supervisor in Fresno for the past two decades, is thrilled Upshaw, the youngest of her four children, has been able to salvage his basketball career. Upshaw was dismissed from Fresno State before landing at Washington. And during his first year with the Huskies he spent the last half of the season away from games and practices to focus on off-the-court issues.
“I was on Rob,” Sherman said. “I don’t know everything that he was going through, but I knew he was doing the wrong things. I was tired of people talking about Rob. I was tired of what the family was going through so I’m pretty sure him seeing his mom hurt and upset, it was enough motivation for him to get it together.
“It was some tough love. Some either you want it or you don’t. It’s up to you. It’s always been up to Rob. I think him and Romar had a good understanding as to what Rob needed to do to get back on track. Romar to me was the best fit for Rob off the court. Being a mentor. His experience and just the person that he is, I think Rob needed that consistency.
“I think like Rob said, at the end of the day he was just tired of people saying negative things about him. And I think he realized how bright and talented his future was going to be.”
Sherman recounted stories about Upshaw not wanting to play basketball until the ninth grade because he was interested in baseball in football.
“I think he felt pressured to play from his brothers and his friends,” she said. “It felt like this year Rob is having fun playing basketball.”
When asked if the 21-year-old Upshaw would return to UW next year, Sherman was a little less diplomatic than her son.
“The sky is the limit,” she said. “Right now anything is possible. If it’s God’s will, it’s going to be his last year at Washington.”