Rodney Terry secured one of the nation’s elite remaining recruits Sunday with the signing of Fresno native Robert Upshaw.
Upshaw, a 7-foot, 270-pound center out of San Joaquin Memorial, made the decision of where he’d pursue Division-I basketball in a banquet-style setting at Antonio’s Mexican Restaurant near River Park.
Upshaw had committed to Kansas State but followed his mother’s advice and signed a nonbinding atheltic aid agreement with the program.
When then-Kansas State head coach Frank Martin left to take over at South Carolina, Upshaw’s search for a school restarted.
“After what has happened with my recruiting process, me not attending Kansas State, I really sat down and I really thought about it,” Upshaw said. “I felt like me and Coach Terry’s relationship over the past four years has been something that’s been building.”
Rodney Terry began recruiting Upshaw four years ago when he was an assistant at Texas. That relationship is what Upshaw said really turned him on to Fresno State.
With four hats representing Cal, Washington, Fresno State and USC, a black box sat in between all of them and held the hat of the school he would attend.
When time came to announce his decision, Upshaw pulled out a crisp, brand-new Fresno State cap.
Terry was informed of Upshaw’s decision on Thursday when the two spoke on the phone.
Upshaw said the first-year coach was in shock and couldn’t even muster out a ‘Thank you.’
“He didn’t even say ‘Thank you,’ nothing,” Upshaw said. “He just dropped the phone and it was just a blank silence for about a whole five minutes. So I ended the phone call and called him back and was like ‘You still there?’
“He just really expressed that he was really excited and that to do new things at Fresno State, to rebuild this program. It’s something that can bring this community back together in terms of rebuilding the football team and rebuilding the basketball team — something that can bring the Fresno State community back together as it was when we were shining.”
Upshaw averaged 18 points, 13.2 rebounds, 5.2 blocks and 3.1 assists per game in his senior campaign at Memorial. He led the Panthers to a 23-9 season that included a Central Section Division II championship and a trip to the quarterfinals of the Southern California Regional.
• On possibly following Frank Martin to South Carolina:
“No I did not. I just felt that Kansas State, the environment at Kansas State, was in was an environment I chose and, again, to pick up an go somewhere new — I mean same coach but you’re in a different environment. You’re basically across the country now versus being halfway across the country — it just wasn’t good for me.”
• On Coach Terry’s initial reaction:
“Ecstatic. He couldn’t wait to tell anybody. We had to keep it a secret, so we could do what I did here today. He was very excited. This is what he had been wanting. He’d wanted it at Texas, and for him to get the job at Fresno State made it even better.”
• On weight on his shoulders:
“In terms of weight I do feel it because I know I have to represent my school in every possible way as a student, as a citizen of the city and I felt like I have to what’s best for me, my team and my family.”
Editor in chief Ben Ingersoll also contributed to this report