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MVP Upshaw says X-Men legal woes ‘not a factor’ – Metro US

MVP Upshaw says X-Men legal woes ‘not a factor’

After a week of turmoil, Christian Upshaw gave the St. Francis Xavier X-Men a reason to smile yesterday.

The Halifax native and third-year X-Men point guard was named Atlantic University Sport MVP on the eve of the Final 6 basketball championship at the Metro Centre.

It was some much-needed good news for the X-Men after three players landed in legal trouble on Monday.

Upshaw, who finished fifth in AUS scoring with 19.1 points per game, enjoyed a breakthrough season. He drained 46 three-pointers in 19 games, improving his shooting percentage beyond the arc from .288 as a sophomore to a deadly .479.

Never known as a long-range bomber, Upshaw said he spent the past few seasons in the gym hitting between 400 to 500 shots a day — and that’s outside of X-Men practices.

“I worked really, really hard at it and it paid off,” said Upshaw, who was also fifth in assists (4.0 per game), sixth in steals (2.1) and 10th in field-goal percentage (.494).

“It helped me become more of a threat on the court, the fact that I can shoot the ball and still go to the hoop.”

Upshaw’s talents will be put to a stiff test at the Final 6 with all-star guard Tyler Richards on the sidelines. Richards and teammates Eamon Morrissey and William Donkoh were charged on Monday with assault causing bodily harm and ordered by St. F.X. administration to sit out the Final 6.

The five-foot-10 Upshaw, known for his remarkable athleticism, said the off-court problems are “not even a factor” and the X-Men “are just focused on winning” the Final 6.

“Just go out and do our thing,” he said, noting tough defence and strong post play will be keys to success.

The X-Men have a bye to tomorrow’s semifinals.

Upshaw and Richards have played basketball together since they were toddlers and have rarely been apart. They won two provincial high school titles with the St. Patrick’s Irish and have played three seasons together with the X-Men.

Upshaw was in Grade 12 at St. Pat’s the last time he played on a team without Richards. The X-Men’s opponents may want to take note of what Upshaw accomplished.

“We actually won the provincial championship and I got MVP,” Upshaw said. “Hopefully that’s a good sign.”

• Halifax’s Casey Fox of the Acadia Axemen was named AUS rookie of the year … Jim Charters of the Cape Breton Capers won coach of the year for the third time … Cape Breton’s Phillip Nkrumah was named top defensive player.

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