Categorized | MTSU Basketball

Upshaw leads Raiders underclassmen

Posted on 27 October 2014 by Allen


Reggie Upshaw Jr. will have more memories of his freshman college experience than most other first-year student athletes.

Surrounded by four seniors in a starting lineup that had won 28 games and played in the NCAA tournament a year before, Upshaw started 20 games, experiencing early the weight of starting as a true freshman.

It was a challenge for Upshaw, and the choo-choo-city native delivered.

“I felt there was a lot of pressure because I didn’t want to let the other four seniors down knowing that this (was) their last season,” said Upshaw, who averaged 6.5 points and 3.5 rebounds a game.

“Sometimes you just start a lot of freshman and you lose games,” said head coach Kermit Davis. “But he started in a really vital role and helped us win a championship.”

A part of that important role was helping now Miami Heat player and 2014 Conference USA player of the year Shawn Jones get more touches on the offensive end.

“Last year Shawn was kind of the center piece. We all tried to get the ball to him as much as possible,” said Upshaw.

But if you take a look at the final statistics from last year, Upshaw had the third best shooting percentage (45.9 percent, minimum 100 attempts) behind Jones and Neiko Hunter.

With that efficiency comes confidence, and with confidence comes more opportunities for the 6’7, 222-pound sophomore.

“This year I feel like I have to be more assertive on the offense end and try to kind of take on some of those shots he took last year,” said Upshaw.

“We’re going to play him a bit more at the 4-spot. That will give him a little more advantages where he can start trying to drive,” said Davis, comparing Upshaw to former pick-and-pop forwards like LaRon Dendy, Hunter and MT’s all-time leading scorer Desmond Yates.

“He’s really skilled. We let him rebound the ball and advance the ball up the floor on the break. He’s shooting the ball better now. He’s a really good passer. There’s a lot of things Reggie can do.”

One of the biggest strengths Upshaw has is the ability to play as a shooting guard or forward, depending on the opponent’s lineup and offensive game plan.

This allows Upshaw a big advantage of bringing the ball down court at the forward position, giving the offense more options to work with, and creating confusion for opposing defenses.

“You don’t have to outlet the ball. You are playing fast in the break. The other team’s point guard is usually trying to stop the ball and now it’s a little different,” said Davis. “Your transition defense is harder, so there is no doubt I think if you can have a multiple handler, especially at the 4-spot, you get a lot better.”

Upshaw, who looks just as much of a wide receiver for the Middle Tennessee football team as he does to a younger “Boogie” Yates, uses a lot of skills from his football playing days at Baylor on the basketball court.

“I love recruiting basketball guys that have played football. I think they’ve been hit. They’ve been knocked to the ground. They have to have a physicallness about them. Those guys aren’t afraid of contact,” said Davis.

And neither is Upshaw of the challenges ahead.

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