When Robert Upshaw was first rumored to be considering transferring to Washington, the first thought that went through my mind was, “Why?”
Upshaw had a troubled past – or at least a troubled season. He chose to stay home and play for the Fresno State Bulldogs over offers from multiple Pac-12 programs, Louisville and Georgetown. He only averaged 4.1 points and 3.8 rebounds last season, while apparently having issues off-the-court. He was suspended twice before being dismissed from the team in mid-August.
Why would a top-tier Pac-12 program take on a transfer that struggled so much in the Mountain West Conference? What makes Lorenzo Romar think that Upshaw can overcome his issues and contribute for a good Pac-12 team?
Well, if there’s anyone in college hoops that can fix a troubled player, it’s Romar. In various player polls, they consistently vote Romar as one of the top coaches they would want to play for. Players that do normally have an astounding relationship with not only Romar and the coaching staff, but their teammates, too.
Nobody knows what Upshaw’s teammates at Fresno State thought of him. For all we know, he was like family to them and it hurt them to see him struggle. Because of his problems, there remains a good chance that he never felt the family-like bond that most players feel on a team.
What Romar and the Huskies need to do to help Upshaw is something they are best-known for. They need to create that relationship. By doing so, Upshaw should feel more responsible for his actions because they won’t only hurt his team, they will hurt his closest friends.
Without his discipline issues, Upshaw would likely still be at Fresno State. The Huskies very well could have gotten a steal here. After pursuing Upshaw hard in 2012 and missing out, Romar has finally gotten his man.
Upshaw has already been remorseful for his actions, even as soon as three weeks after his dismissal. If this holds true, the Huskies snagged a four-star, seven-foot center with three years of eligibility left.
Obviously, Upshaw can’t help this year’s team – he has to sit out a year because of NCAA transfer rules. But from 2014-2015 to 2016-2017, Upshaw has a very good chance of developing into one of the best big men in the nation. At least that’s how he was viewed out of high school.
He looked more raw than anyone expected last season at Fresno State. His offensive game was not polished whatsoever. But he was still one of the best defenders and rebounders in the Mountain West last season.
A season off, of just practicing could be exactly what Upshaw needs. He’ll go up against some of the best talent in the Pac-12 in practice on a daily basis. Coming back as a redshirt sophomore in 2014, he’ll have a chance to bring a much more refined offensive skill set to the table.
Better yet? The Huskies beat out the Ducks for a big-time transfer.