Having that certain drive to get better and always have the ambition to keep working harder is something that not every player has because sometimes that God given talent takes players away from doing that extra shift on the court or in the gym hours after your teammates have left and gone over to the campus eating area or back home to their families to catch some down time. However for Reggie Upshaw a rookie for German BBL cellar team Walter Tigers Tuebingen, nothing has changed in the last five years from being a freshman at Middle Tennessee State to now in Tuebingen as his relentless hard work continues to be there and pay dividends as his development and growth as a player continues as it has made him an elite BBL player despite playing for a losing team. His confidence also has been affected by his hard work as last July when he was signed by the German team, he uttered these bold words. “I definitely feel like I can be an impact player in the BBL especially if I come in with an open mind to work hard each day”, warned Reggie Upshaw. So far he has stuck behind his wise prediction as his stellar play has brought him to the elite in the BBL. Of course his hard work has brought him a long way and will continue to, but another strength is his character as just a week before he was signed by Tuebingen last summer, he was battling NBA players every day and then he stated how much it was a dream to play in Germany and for Tuebingen something that he credits his dad to helping him mold. “He’s a big part of who I am today if it wasn’t for him I don’t think my character would be like it is now”, warned Reggie Upshaw.
But before Germany, he had to make a name for himself at Middle Tennessee State and did having an illustrious career there from 2013-2017 playing a total of 139 games and winning the C-USA Tournament twice in 2016-2017. The Chattanooga, Tennessee native who learned his early basketball trade at Baylor high school came to Middle Tennessee State in the fall of 2013 who lists Lebron James as his favorite player and Draymond Green as his idol. Before coming to Middle Tennessee State(NCAA) he made a name for himself at Baylor winning a state high jump contest and lettering in both football and basketball. He turned down a football scholarship to Vanderbilt and chose basketball much to the satisfaction of his dad despite having been a star football player at Middle State Tennessee in the early 90´s. A few tough injuries curtailed his senior year at Baylor, but he was ready for basketball action when he arrived at Middle Tennessee State. As a freshman, he had a lot of company with guys up front with like Shawn Jones, Neiko Hunter and Joshua Philipps, but he held his own averaging 6.4ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 51.5%, 3PT: 29.3%, FT: 50.0%. Of course character is huge for the success of a player as a Luke Sikma or Philip Scrubb can attest to, but it´s the hard work that became present early in his freshman year. Last week ex teammate Shawn Jones who was a mentor for him and is playing in Italy this season for Banco di Sardegna Sassari was in Oldenburg preparing for a Basketball Champions League game and remembered how Upshaw heeded to his advice. “Yes still to this day I mentor him. He is like my little brother. At first, I didn´t really like him. But I quickly saw his potential to be that big man that could also shoot from outside. I told him to keep working hard, because there weren´t many guys like him. I remember telling him that he could destroy the conference. He took my advice and ran with it”, stressed Shawn Jones.
Upshaw really came into his own is his sophomore season as he played 36 games averaging 9.9ppg, 7.0rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 47.2%, 3PT: 28.8%, FT: 64.8%. He scored in double figures in 20 games and registered four double doubles. He had some huge games against Louisiana Tech netting 21 points and busted Florida Atlantic for 20 points and 11 boards. In his junior season the American who credits his toughest player he battled in the NCAA to be Denzel Valentine who plays now for the Chicago Bulls made another step putting up stellar stats playing 35 games averaging 13.7ppg, 8.5rpg, 2.2apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 52.5%, 3PT: 38.0%, FT: 49.4%. He scored in double figures 25 times and produced 11 double doubles. Some of his best games included a 32 point and 12 rebound outburst against Trevecca Naz, 27 points against Charlotte, 22 points and 13 boards against Florida International and 21 points against Michigan State in a huge 90-81 victory at the NCAA tournament winning the duel against Denzel Valentine. His season did end on a sour note getting clobbered 75-50 by Syracuse as he scored only two points while Tyler Roberson netted 12 points and got nine rebounds. Upshaw remembered their meeting last summer in the NBA Summer League. “It was definitely competitive. We went at each other a little when we could”, added Upshaw. Bright spots on his junior season was winning the C-USA Tournament and being named tournament MVP.
In his senior year he put up good stats again improving his scoring average playing 36 games averaging 14.5ppg, 6.8rpg, 2.4apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 60.4%, 3PT: 31.7%, FT: 72.4%. He scored in double figures in 32 of 36 games and produced five double doubles. His best scoring games included a 34 point explosion against UAB where he scored more than half his teams points, 21 points against Milligan and UTSA. He had a 20 point effort against Rice. He also was flirting with a triple double against Mississippi where he netted 15 points, hauled down 10 rebounds and dished out 8 assists. He helped win the C-USA tournament again and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament getting by Minnesota and then bowing out to Butler where he produced 12 points. The American profited heavily from 203cm American Jacorey Williams who is looking to make the NBA as currently he is playing with the Canton Charge putting up 14 and 7 stats while in his senior year at Middle Tennessee State, the Arkansas(NCAA) transfer student produced 17.3ppg, 7.3rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 54.6%, 3PT: 13.3%, FT: 69.6% stats. “Having Jacorey on the team was great he made it easier knowing that I had another scoring threat on the floor. We made each other better”, stressed Reggie Upshaw. He finished his career being named to the 2017 C-USA tournament and defensive teams. He was able to improve his field goal % in his last three seasons as his focus on developing his shot more paid off. So when Shawn Jones graduated after Upshaw´s freshman season it was head coach Kermit Davis who continued to make sure that hard work was plastered firmly in his mentality. “Coach made sure I wasn’t taking plays off or reps off in practice and in games”, added Reggie Upshaw.
After finishing at Middle Tennessee State, he continued to sample vital experience playing at the very well known and highly acclaimed Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (Pre-NBA Draft) playing 3 games averaging 14.3ppg, 8.3rpg and getting on the radar of European teams .He then played at the 2017 July NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, NV (Milwaukee Bucks) playing 5 games averaging 3.2ppg, 3.6rpg. He got his first taste of how the NBA works and saw many guys like himself chasing that NBA dream. He got his feet wet in the NBA shark tank, and also recognized quickly what still separates him from making it at the next level in the NBA. “The ability to take control of games and close games out in the final moments”, expressed Reggie Upshaw. Also that magical word hard work popped up again as he said farewell to the Milwaukee organization after they had given him the opportunity to showcase his talent last summer. “They just told me to keep being who I was and do the things that had gotten me to that point and to keep working”, warned Reggie Upshaw. So with his first NBA chapter closed, it was time to head over to Europe and play his rookie season with the Walter Tigers Tuebingen. His first five professional months are almost over and it has been a tale of two stories as he has made the next step as a player, but his team is the door mat in the BBL and he is already playing for his second head coach Matthias Fischer after the club recently fired Tyrone Mccoy. But in a way the American can be thankful to his ex coach Mccoy as he did allow him play to his strengths and allowed him to be comfortable having an important offensive role despite having many other talented players around him.
Upshaw´s stats have been huge as through 12 games he is averaging 15,0ppg, 6,0rpg and 2,0apg while shooting 38% from outside his best percentage since his junior season at Middle Tennessee State. He has scored in double figures in 11 of 12 games as he hit ratiopharm Ulm for 27 points and BG Goettingen for 20 points. The American has shown early on that he can be a consistent scorer and rebounder, but he also states other strengths in his offensive arsenal. “I feel like the other parts of my game that make me who I am are my IQ for the game and my ability to make others around me better”, stressed Reggie Upshaw. He also has displayed an eye for his teammates as he dished out five assists against Bremerhaven and four against Ratiopharm Ulm as passing continues to be another strength off the radar of opponents scouting reports. But taking away a lot from his own stellar individual play has been the club´s horrible play. Currently the Walter Tigers Tuebingen are 1-11 and just begging for some kind of successful experience to turn around their miserable season. What is so difficult to comprehend is that the club has 6 very skilled Americans and three bonafide American BBL veterans with Jared Jordan Barry Stewart and Ryan Brooks and two other experienced players with Kris Richard and Tony Easley. The club also has three solid Germans with Phillipp Heyden, Mathis Monninghoff and Sid Marlon Theis, but the talent hasn´t produced success as you can always be so talented, but if the team chemistry isn´t working than it can be disastrous. They rank only 15th out of 18 teams in points scored with 75, but can´t get a gripe on the defensive end as they allow 86 points per contest which is 15th worst and haul down only 28 rebounds per game 14th worst in the BBL. They have so much length, but are totally underachieving and are missing that dominant big man and their thin bench also has been a problem. At any rate the bubble will have to burst sooner or later for the Walter Tigers Tuebingen just like in a game for a great shooting team is ice cold, it´s only a matter of time until they start connecting and feeding the ocean with buckets. For Upshaw he will just continue to work on his game and get better. He continues to take extra sessions after practice with assistant coach Alexander Nadjefji who belonged to the top power forward in the BBL 12 years ago aids him in all area´s of his game as the ex Serbian national player mentions his post game and defense as area´s where he needs improvement. Upshaw is on a very positive route in his own game and the only thing that needs to occur now is for his team to start winning. One thing is for sure, if Upshaw ever does have a weak moment in work motivation, all he needs to do is stare at a big phrase in the Tigers training gym that reads “Hard Work Beats Talent If Talent Fails To Work Hard” and then he will remember quickly what got him to Germany in the first place and find back into his special work element that many players could take as a keen example of how a professional player should be like.