Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"We Were Only Freshmen ..."

Shabazz Napier, Tyler Olander and Michael Bradley were on campus today. Napier and Bradley are slated to begin first-session summer classes, while Olander will take second-session classes starting June 28. First, he's got to graduate from E.O. Smith High School right next door, on June 18.

Napier says his reclassification from Class of 2011 to 2010 is complete, and he'll be ready to go for UConn this fall. He says he had to withdraw from Lawrence Academy in Groton, Mass., about a month ago and re-enroll at Charlestown High, where he started his high school career five years ago. Had he stayed at Lawrence, Napier says he wouldn't have been able to re-classify. But the Roxbury native says he was able to return to Charlestown High and, recently, graduate from the school.

Napier spent three years at Charlestown High (he tried to transfer to Tilton School in New Hampshire as a sophomore, where he would have been teammates with Jamal Coombs-McDaniel and Alex Oriakhi, but it fell through), then two at Lawrence Academy. When he first went to Lawrence, he was bumped down two grades and re-classified as a sophomore. He was a junior this past season, and would have been a senior next year at Lawrence.

Confused? Well, bottom line is, he's now at UConn, ready for summer courses and, of course, honing his game.

"My main focus is hitting the weights, getting my teammates better: getting them up real early to do running, doing stairs, and getting everyone focused," said Napier, a 6-foot point guard. "Even though I’m a freshman, I’m a point guard, which means you have to be a leader on the court, no matter how old you are or how long you’ve been in the game. It’s a big role when you take over as a point guard on a big stage like the Big East.”

(Yup, that's Geno Auriemma shooting hoops in the background)

He's certainly got a good example of that in new teammate Kemba Walker.

“He’s the teacher," Napier said. "He’s teaching me stuff, I’m learning from it. We play on separate teams, so I’m learning stuff on defense and on offense. I’m learning the way he gets in the lane. There’s a lot to learn from a guy like him.”

Napier envisions sharing court time with Walker often this season.

“He told me he wants to be more of a two-guard. I think that’s better for him to be a two-guard. He gets in the lane and scores, his shot’s getting so much better. As you can see, in past history, UConn was good when it had two guards running the floor. I think it’s giong to be best for him, and also the team. My role is to basically do whatever I can to help the team out.”

Napier added that he's a born leader.

“You’ve got to have it in you. It comes from within. Not a lot of people have it, that’s why I think I separate myself from a lot of point guards.”

Oh, and as to the NCAA's recent findings that UConn has allegedly committed eight violations?

“It doesn’t affect me at all, it’s not really my ballpark," said Napier. "It’s not something I should be worried about. They brought me here for two things -- school and basketball. Anything else, I’ll leave it in their hands.”

Likewise, Olander isn't worried about potential sanctions.

"It’s nothing really with this team we have here," said the Mansfield native. "That’s the coaches’ deal, they’re going to deal with it. We’re just going to play and try to win a national championship. It doesn’t affect the team we have now at all.”

Olander, a 6-foot-9 left-hander, certainly boasts a sweet stroke -- as evidenced in this video during a workout on Tuesday at Gampel:
He calls himself a "face-up four," and while his shooting is something the Huskies certainly could use, he's ready to help the team in any way possible.

"I’m ready to experience the whole thing and ready to get going, so I can have as much impact as I can next season to try to help the team get going. Whatever I can (do), so I can be as versatile as I can: inside, outside, rebounding, whatever the team needs."

***Also, Jamaal Trice and Darius Smith were at Gampel today. Didn't get a chance to talk to them, but obviously neither has transferred, to this point

***Who sang the song "The Freshman," that's referenced in the title of this blog?

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Blogger djsturtevant said...

The Verve Pipe. Really, a great live band!

June 1, 2010 at 5:28 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is the scholarship situation going to work if neither Trice or Smith transfer?

June 1, 2010 at 7:32 PM 
Blogger David Borges said...

Never saw the Verve Pipe live, but good to know.

Looks like Trice and Smith will transfer.

June 2, 2010 at 9:38 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trice and Smith both transfered.

June 2, 2010 at 7:43 PM 
Blogger David Borges said...

Actually, nothing is official yet, though Jim Calhoun told me yesterday that both will be transferring, in all likelihood.

June 2, 2010 at 8:00 PM 

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