By Joe Henricksen

Wow! ISU nabs big-time sleeper

| 6 Comments | No TrackBacks

By Joe Henricksen

The commits keep coming for Illinois State and head coach Tim Jankovich. Zeke Upshaw became the first player ever out of Chicago University Lab to land a Division I scholarship, giving Jankovich and ISU a commitment on Sunday following a campus visit on Saturday. Upshaw's commitment follows those from the duo of 6-7 Jon Ekey and high-scoring 6-5 Justin Clark from William Chrisman High School in Missouri, as well as talented combo guard Terry Johnson of St. Rita.

While the Hoops Report has noted that Johnson has been overlooked nationally and on the recruiting trail overall, Upshaw has been vastly underappreciated locally. The Hoops Report has labeled Upshaw a "big-time sleeper" for the past five months and for good reason. Playing for Chicago Lab and a loaded Mac Irvin Fire AAU team, Upshaw's opportunities to shine on a regular basis have been limited. He has barely been a blip on the radar and undervalued in recruiting circles. But there aren't many players in the Class of 2009 that bring the type of versatility to the floor as Upshaw. ISU now has a talent in the fold that brings great size and length at 6-6 to the perimeter. He's in the Brandon Rush mold as he can handle the ball and shoot like a 2-guard. He will be a nightmare matchup problem for opponents due to his size and versatility, be able to defend big guards and stretch defenses with his shooting.

The old phrase "his best basketball is ahead of him" most definitely fits Upshaw, maybe more so than most players in the senior class. He will need a little time to adjust to the physical play of the Missouri Valley, the demands of college basketball and prove his toughness, but his upside is enormous. Upshaw is just so extremely skilled for a player his size and has barely scratched the surface as a basketball player. And an added plus, just as it is with Johnson and Ekey, is the fact Upshaw is an elite student with great character. Upshaw has excelled in a demanding academic high school, Johnson sports a 4.1 GPA and Ekey is ranked No. 7 academically in his class. What a great combination for a college program when you can add talent along with character and hard core academic student-athletes. In this day that is pretty rare.

Illinois State, which returns arguably the best player in the Missouri Valley this season in former Phillips star Osiris Eldridge from a 25-win team, has now put themselves in position to be a threat in the MVC for years to come. With the trio of Simeon's Keyon Smith, Decatur Eisenhower's Jeremy Robinson and Hillcrest's Kellen Thornton as incoming freshmen, to go along with the four commitments in the last week, the cupboard is loading up for the Redbirds. As has been stated before by the Hoops Report, ISU has made their presence felt with their recruiting aggressiveness. A lot of credit in both the Johnson and Upshaw recruiting goes to assistant Paris Parham. Both players and parents have raved about and been impressed with the relationship the well-connected assistant and Chicago native has developed with prospects during the recruiting process.

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://blogs.suntimes.com/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/11116

6 Comments

FORMER DUNBAR STAR PLAYER PARIS PARHAM HAS BEEN A
GODSEND FOR ILLINOIS STATE UNIVERSITY!
HE ISN'T CRYING IN HIS BEER AS THE SAYING GOES, HE IS
GETTING YOUNGSTERS WHO ARE EXCITED ABOUT BECOMING
ISU REDBIRDS, I MAY BE MAKING THE DRIVE 90 MILES TO
SEE THE REDBIRDS IN ACTION!

Good Job, ISU. Keep the good recruits in Illinois to stay in Illinois. I don't seen why ISU can't win the MVC this upcoming season with this talent.

It won't be long before ISU basketball is where SIU has been over the last 6-7 years. It's great to see the Redbirds back in the mix for top players in state. Hoops Report was right on last year in pumping Terry Johnson as a prospect. Others ignored his talents.

May want to fact check the claim that Upshaw is the first Lab School athlete to earn a D1 scholarship in basketball. The key word is scholarship....Arne Duncan, current CPS CEO played at Harvard....John Rogers, Ariell Financial, Princeton....there were without question other basketball players out of U High Lab to in fact play D1 basketball...again " scholarship" is the key word...the story implies that he is the first from U High to play D1 basketball....you are covered with the word " scholarship",,,

Burt,

As you said, scholarship is what was said. If you are aware of another scholarship player out of Lab School let me know. Thanks...... Joe H

zeke is my lil cuz and i no he will be I. S. U. TOP PLAYER NO THAT :)

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on August 18, 2008 7:20 AM.

Conway commit big plus for Northern Iowa was the previous entry in this blog.

With Terry Johnson, is North Lawndale No. 1? is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.