Upshaw on the Rise

TSR talks to 2012 prospect Robert Upshaw about the recruiting process. Upshaw holds ten offers.

Robert Upshaw, a 6-foot-11, 255 lb behemoth from Fresno, CA has had a chance to sit down and think over the past few months. In fact, Upshaw has had more time to think in the past year than most basketball players of his caliber have in their entire lifetime.

Upshaw, who played his first two seasons of high school basketball at Edison High School, made the decision last year to transfer to San Joaquin High School, thus accepting the CIF transfer penalty of one year of athletic ineligibility. While the season was a rough one for the five-star recruit, Upshaw has put that time behind him and is already working towards making his return to the court well worth the wait. “I wasn't really comfortable at the school that I was at. It was too far across town whereas my new school is right down the road,” said Upshaw. “I've been playing basketball non-stop since 8th grade so it kind of felt awkward for me to not be playing with a team for such a long time, but I've gotten over it. I've put in a lot of hours over the past few months trying to get better and put everything else in the past.”

Upshaw's absence from the court wasn't the only major change that's been going on in his life recently. Once 280 pounds, Upshaw has worked tirelessly over the past few months to shed about 30 pounds from his near 7-foot frame. “I decided to lose the weight because it was getting in the way of how I wanted to play the game,” he said. “I always want to be able to get up and down the court and I felt shedding some extra weight would really help my mobility.”

His increased mobility only makes this big man more of a presence on the floor. On the recruiting trail, Upshaw is known as a legitimate big man, adept at using his body and blessed with great hands. “I wouldn't say that I'm better on one side of the ball than the other because I feel like when I'm at my best I can make an impact on both sides. I can get up and block shots and rebound the ball on defense, but then I can work the paint and use the pick and roll to get to the basket on offense so I feel that I'm a pretty versatile player.”

Schools all over the nation have taken notice of his talent, despite his brief winter hiatus from the game. “There are quite a number of offers on the table for me right now. I have offers from conferences like the Big 12, WCC, PAC 12, SEC, ACC and Big Ten. It's definitely humbling to know that so many schools are interested in me and it makes me want to get back in the gym and continue to improve,” stated Upshaw.

Eager to be his best for his final go around in high school, Upshaw is putting in the time and miles this summer to sharpen his game. After a solid showing two weeks ago at the NBA Player's Association Top 100 Camp, Upshaw has returned home but will be headed out to Amare Stoudemire's Skills Academy in the next few weeks. However, while he's at home in Fresno, Upshaw has been very focused on improving specific areas of his game. “I still need to work on getting up and down the floor more consistently and being more consistent in the post. I'm working on getting the defender on my hip more often so it's then easier to use a post move.”

One of the many teams who have shown interest in Upshaw is Maryland, who offered him a scholarship in late April of 2011. Reports of the offer came out around April 24, just days before the shocking announcement of Gary Williams' retirement. Luckily for Terps fans however, the one piece of the coaching staff that still remains, assistant coach Bino Ranson, was the man who had been in contact with Upshaw for quite some time. As a result, the immense change within the program had much less of an effect on his view of the school as a viable college option.

“I have been talking to Coach Bino a lot recently, especially since I got the scholarship offer from Maryland. He's a real nice guy and I enjoy talking to him. We always have a good conversation,” said Upshaw, who also noted that he and Ranson speak at least once a month. As for the new staff, Upshaw has recently heard from the new coach himself, Mark Turgeon. “I talked to Coach Turgeon on the phone recently. We talked about how he wanted me to be a part of his program at Maryland and what he wanted me to consider and look into when evaluating the school.”

Despite all the offers Upshaw sports from across the map, he has yet to make any kind of list, or sort out the schools that he wishes to visit eventually. Yet he made it clear that Maryland was a serious option. “It was really nice to hear from the new coaching staff and from what I've seen of the campus on television and such it looks like a really nice school. The campus looks pretty new and that along with a brand new program makes it a nice option.”

Terps fans can only hope that a visit to College Park is in the cards for this top-tier big man from out west.

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