A few months ago, former Washington Huskies center Robert Upshaw appeared in the first round of a few NBA mock drafts, but his stock has dropped in recent weeks.
There are several red flags when it comes to the 7-foot shot-blocking phenom, who has fallen out of first-round projections for Thursday’s 4 p.m. (PT) draft in Brooklyn, N.Y.
He was dismissed from Fresno State during his 2012-13 freshman season. After landing at UW, he was asked to stay away from the team midway during his first year with the Huskies.
After returning for the 2014-15 season, the redshirt sophomore blossomed into an early star. He accumulated 85 blocks in just 19 games, which shattered the UW season record of 67. Upshaw led the nation with 4.5 blocks per game. Had he continued that pace, he would have finished the regular season with 134 and eclipsed the Pac-12 record.
Most Read Stories
- Snohomish County man has the United States’ first known case of Wuhan coronavirus
- 5 of the Seattle area's most changed neighborhoods: We crunched the data on population, income, jobs
- 'We were before our time': Remembering the fight to change King County's namesake from a slave owner to a civil-rights leader VIEW
- How white families with young children can work to undo racism
- Spendy dinners and $79 haircuts: Tim Eyman isn't living like someone who's bankrupt, AG says
However, Upshaw was kicked off the team in January.
Since his dismissal, Upshaw said he’s worked to address his personal problems. He’s talked about overcoming drug and alcohol addiction but has declined to specifically discuss why he was booted from two teams.
“I’ve just done a lot of soul searching and had time re-focus, reflect and really think about everything that happened to me,” he told The Times last month during a telephone interview. “I’m not going to say what happened at UW was for the best, but it forced me to get my stuff together.”
NBA evaluators might overlook his troubled past, but his draft stock plummeted after he was diagnosed with a possible heart condition at the NBA combine and was forced to suspend workouts. Last week, he was cleared to work out for the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets.
Upshaw is arguably the most polarizing player in the draft. His upside is tremendous, but the risks are substantial.
As one Eastern Conference scout noted: “He’s 21. He’s an excellent shot blocker and had defensive skills that you can plug into any team in this league. … But here’s the thing, I don’t know how much he loves basketball. Some of that other stuff, you can help a kid with if he’s willing to change. But he’s got to convince somebody that he’s worth the effort.”
ESPN draft guru Chad Ford projects the Boston Celtics will use the 33rd overall pick in the second round to take Upshaw, and Draft Express tabs Boston picking him up with its 45th pick. Meanwhile, NBAdraft.net projects New Orleans will take Upshaw at No. 56.