Upstate Announces Six Newcomers for 2017-18 Season

Upstate Announces Six Newcomers for 2017-18 Season

Spartanburg, S.C. – USC Upstate head men's basketball coach Eddie Payne announced this afternoon that six newcomers will join the Spartans program and begin play with the 2017-18 season.

Signing to play at Upstate in 2017-18 are Isaiah Simpson, Avery Diggs, Cory Kaplan, Austin Nelson, Pat Welch and Yeskin Walker-Williams.

"We have a lot of new faces heading into next year," said Payne. "This group covers all five positions, and I think all of them have good potential to develop into impact players for our program. It is unclear as to their roles for this season but we know that many, if not all, will be legitimate contributors to this year's team."

The new additions hail from the states of Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Texas.

The six newcomers for the 2017-18 season are:

Isaiah Simpson  |  6-8  |  240  |  Center  |  Chester, Va. (John Marshall HS)
Simpson is a 6-8 center and lettered in both basketball and football at John Marshall High School. 

He played nearly 80 games during his prep career at John Marshall and averaged 9.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per contest. Simpson turned in 13.7 points and 8.9 rebounds per contest as a senior to be named Honorable Mention All-Conference 26 and All-Academic by the RVA Sports Network. He played in the 804 All-Star Game after helping lead John Marshall to the quarterfinals of the Class AAA state playoffs.

He was part of a state championship team at John Marshall in 2014.

Simpson also started on the football team as a quarterback and was a Richmond Times-Dispatch First Team All-Conference 26 performer as a junior.

He is the son of Rodney Anderson.

Avery Diggs  |  6-11  |  255  |  Center  |  Brandon, Fla. (Spoto HS)
Diggs is a 6-11 center from Florida and attended Spoto High School where he lettered in basketball.

He played two seasons on the varsity basketball team at Spoto and started one year while playing for head coaches Michael Jordan and Ty Townsend. Diggs was part of two teams that advanced to the semifinals of the District 9-5A playoffs.

He is the son of Gerell and Colleen Diggs.

Cory Kaplan  |  6-6  |  198  |  Forward  |  Merritt Island, Fla. (Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy)
Kaplan is a 6-6 forward from Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy in Florida. He earned five letters playing varsity basketball at Holy Trinity and also served as team captain.

He scored over 1,800 points in his prep career and averaged 20 points per game during his senior season. Kaplan received All-State honors as a sophomore while being selected Second Team All-Conference as a junior. He was First Team All-Conference following his senior year and made the Final Four All-Tournament Team.

He is the son of Steve and Linda Kaplan.

Austin Nelson  |  6-6  |  195  |  Guard  |  Hendersonville, N.C. (North Henderson HS)
Nelson is a 6-6 guard from Hendersonville, N.C. where he lettered in basketball for head coach Justin Parris at North Henderson High School.

He is the all-time leading scorer at North Henderson with 2,075 career points and also set a new record for points in a season with 861 as a senior. Nelson is the school's career leader in steals with 214. This past season he averaged 28.7 points per game as the Knights went 26-4 and won the WNCAC Regular Season and Tournament Championships, and reached the third round of the NCHSAA AA Playoffs.

Nelson has been named the WNC Athletic Conference Player of the Year, was nominated for the McDonald's All-American Game and was chosen to represent North Henderson at the Clash of the Carolinas in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

He is the son of Jermaine Marsh and Autumn Nelson.

Pat Welch  |  6-1  | 185  |  Guard  |  Pembroke, N.H. (South Georgia Tech)
Welch is a 6-1 guard and is transferring to Upstate after playing two seasons for head coach Travis Garrett at South Georgia Technical College.

This past season Welch played in all 33 games for South Georgia and registered 29 starts, averaging 9.6 points per game and ranked 13th in the GCAA in three-point field goal percentage at 37.8 percent. He made the game-winning basket for South Georgia in a 76-74 win over Gordon State in the first round of the NJCAA Region XVII Tournament. As a freshman, he played in 17 games with eight starts before suffering an injury. Welch average 6.2 points per game as a freshman.

Welch graduated from Pembroke Academy after leading the team to back-to-back state championships in 2013 and 2014. He was named the D-II Player of the Year in 2014 following a season in which he averaged 24 points per game. He finished his prep career second in school history with 1,907 points. Welch also spent a season at Notre Dame Preparatory School.

He is the son of William Welch and Christina Dibernardo.

Yeskin Walker-Williams  |  6-6  |  200  |  Forward  |  Houston, Texas (Manvel HS)
Walker-Williams is a 6-6 forward who earned four varsity letters each in basketball, football and track at Manvel High School.

Walker-Williams was a Second Team All-District 23-5A during his senior season by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches after helping Manvel advance to the fifth round of the Texas UIL state playoffs.

He is the son of Robert Williams and La Keysha Walker.

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