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Robert Upshaw picks Fresno State

4/15/2012

I was looking long and hard for Robert Upshaw (Fresno, Calif./San Joaquin Memorial). On Friday night, word came out that he was on a campus and would announce his decision Sunday afternoon.

A call to the family yielded minimal information. No one was talking.

Methodically, I went about the business of trying to figure out where Upshaw was. Just like some search for Waldo, I was on the prowl trying to find the 7-foot center. I rattled off all the BCS schools in my head that might have use for a man his size. Then I checked with my sources and was coming up empty. BTW, this was all done around 1 a.m. ET Saturday morning. I went to sleep for the night and couldn’t find the big fella'.

Saturday morning rolled around and still no sign of Robert. Exactly where was the No. 55 recruit in the country? At that point, I came up with two theories. The first was that he was close to home and that meant Fresno State. The only thing that came out of Fresno was silence. Nothing. Natta. Zip. Zilch. Upshaw’s family did tell me that they didn’t think Rob was going to stay close to home, so that put a hitch in my giddy up.

My second was completely random. Upshaw has an NBA body. Danny Manning played in the NBA. Maybe if Upshaw were headed to that part of the country the first time with Kansas State, he’d revisit the idea of going to Tulsa? After about 10 minutes, I actually convinced myself of this theory. In reality, I don’t think there was an ounce of truth to it. The theory rattled around in my head because that’s what us recruiting guys do, we mull stuff over and see if it happens. We project. Well, this was a figment of my imagination.

Late Sunday afternoon, the coach of Anthony Thomas (Winston Salem, N.C./Hutchison CC) texted me that Thomas was at Fresno State. I later learned Robert played pickup games, but didn’t actually visit with the staff.

An article in the Fresno Bee said Upshaw was announcing at Antonio’s Mexican Restaurant at 6 p.m. ET. Fifteen minutes before the announcement, I called to make sure Robert was in the building. After all, I needed closure. I’d devoted some time to finding him so it was worth the call to put an end to my misery. A half hour later, I called again and the waitress eventually went to find the answer.

“He’s going to Fresno State.” And that’s how Kimberly Bloom, waitress at Antonio’s, made this recruiting blog.

Shortly thereafter, the source of my consternation called my cell.

“Dave, sorry I couldn’t say anything,” Robert Upshaw said. He knew I was looking and he knew I respected his privacy and wouldn’t bother him.

And where was Big Rob the entire time? “I was at home with my mom to be honest with you,” Robert said. “She wanted to keep everything a secret. She didn’t want anyone bombarding me. I stayed here at home and thought about everything. I talked to coach Terry and he was excited. This is where I’m going to get it done. I had a relationship with Coach Terry when he was at Texas.”

Speaking of Texas, the first time I ever saw Upshaw he was decked out in Texas gear. At the time, Upshaw told me he wanted to go to Texas. He was a freshman. Rodney Terry, now the head coach at Fresno, was an assistant at Texas when Upshaw’s high school career was getting started. When Terry moved onto Fresno, Upshaw kept the Bulldogs on his list but ultimately selected Kansas State. The second time around, Terry would get his man.

On Sunday, at that infamous Mexican restaurant with Kimberly, Robert Upshaw committed to Fresno State. That’s it. Saga over. We’ve found him and he found Fresno.

“I got calls from Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky. I didn’t want to go to a school where I didn’t know the coach.”