NBA projection: Napier has been projected in the second-round-to-undrafted category, but a strong showing in the NCAA tournament boosted his stock.
Napier earned first-team All-America honors from the USBWA and was also chosen the player of the year in the American Athletic Conference, no small accomplishment considering Louisville, and its guard Russ Smith, served a one-year stint in the AAC before leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference. Napier also led the Huskies to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament.
Key statistics: 17.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 4.9 apg, 1.8 spg, 2.8 tpg, 34.8 mpg, .425 FG, .388 3PT, .862 FT
Cool statistic: Napier led Connecticut in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals and was the first player in school history to do so. He’s also the only UConn player to rack up two triple-doubles in his career.
Reminds me of: Derek Fisher
What Insiders Say
Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie
“He knows what we need at any given moment. Maybe a facilitator. Maybe a scorer. Maybe leadership. He does so many under-the-waterline things. That’s what we call it around here. Stuff that people outside the program may not notice.”
What Outsiders Say
Florida coach Billy Donovan
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Napier at the end of games. I think he’s a big shot-making guy.”
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Connecticut's Shabazz Napier contemplated turning pro each of the previous two seasons. It's probably a good thing he opted to return to Storrs and improve his game. As a senior, Napier was the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year and a first-team all-AAC selection, and has led the Huskies to the Sweet 16 after scoring 28 points in UConn's third round victory over Villanova.
"He's grown on me," an Eastern Conference executive said. "Didn't care for him early on in his career. Thought he was extremely selfish. But he seems to have matured, not only in how he plays, but how he interacts with his teammates. He scores, but he's a point guard. On the smaller side, not super fast, but clever. And he shoots well enough that you have to honor that, which opens up his ability to use that cleverness and get in the lane and score and score." More>>