Former Fresno State basketball player Robert Upshaw has been dismissed from his second college program in 17 months after the University of Washington cut ties with the 7-footer Monday.
Upshaw, the ex-Memorial High standout who turned 21 three weeks ago, was the national leader in blocked shots for the Huskies.
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar announced the dismissal Monday afternoon. No other details were given by the school.
“We wish Rob well as he moves forward in his life, and we will do our best to support him in the future,” Romar said in a statement.
Fresno State was similarly terse in August 2013 when it announced that Upshaw was dismissed from the Bulldogs for violating team rules a third time. He played one season at Fresno State. Coach Rodney Terry declined to comment when asked about Upshaw’s latest dismissal on Monday.
Upshaw transferred to Washington a month later, sitting out the 2013-14 season per NCAA rules. This season, he was leading the nation averaging 4.6 blocks per game and was already Washington’s single-season record holder with 85 blocks in 19 games. He was averaging 10.9 points per game and 8.2 rebounds, mostly coming off the bench. Upshaw had made four starts.
Upshaw had 13 points, nine rebounds and six blocks in Washington’s 77-56 loss at No. 11 Utah on Sunday night. The News Tribune in Tacoma, Washington, part of The McClatchy Co., reported Monday that Upshaw spoke passionately about the future outside the locker room: “I believe in all my teammates. They believe in me, and I’m not going to give up on them.”
Upshaw has had a well-traveled scholastic journey. He started at Edison High, playing varsity as a 6-10 freshman, but transferred after his sophomore season. He had to sit out his junior year at Memorial, then helped the Panthers win the Central Section Division II championship as a senior who averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.
He was a four-star prospect and considered one of the Top 50 recruits in the nation by some scouting services when he signed a non-binding athletic aid agreement with Kansas State. He reopened his recruitment after coach Frank Martin left to become the coach at South Carolina.
Upshaw chose Fresno State over USC, Washington and Cal. The boost to the Bulldogs program generated by the signing of Upshaw was very short-lived. He injured a knee before the season began, missing the first four games, and was suspended twice within a five-week span in February and March. His second suspension came at the end of the regular season after he grabbed 11 rebounds and had two blocks in a victory at UNLV in his best game of the season. That suspension sidelined him for the Mountain West Conference tournament, where the Bulldogs lost their opener to finish 11-19.
He played 22 games, including five starts, in his only season at Fresno State, averaging 4.1 points and 3.8 rebounds in 16.4 minutes per game. He led the Bulldogs with 39 blocks.
In a December profile on Upshaw’s resurgence at Washington, Yahoo reported that after leaving Fresno State, Upshaw spent time at John Lucas’ drug and alcohol treatment program in Houston.