Friday, April 26, 2013

Shabazz Napier Returning to UConn for Senior Season

Shabazz Napier will return to UConn for his senior year, the school announced on Friday.

Napier puts to rest weeks of speculation since the season ended that he may enter the 2013 NBA Draft. But considering he wasn’t likely to be taken anywhere higher than the middle of the second round (if at all), and the fact that a foot injury would limit his ability to work out for NBA scouts, it seemed likely he would remain in Storrs.

Napier’s return means the Huskies return virtually every player back from last year’s team that went 20-10 overall and 10-8 in the Big East (assuming DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright also return, which both seem highly likely). UConn could be a force in the new American Athletic Conference, along with defending national champion Louisville as well as Memphis, Temple and fellow Big East holdover Cincinnati.

NBA scouts also largely believed Napier would be wise to eschew this year’s draft.

“I think he should stay in school,” an Eastern Conference scout told the Register last month. “I think he’s a talented kid. He needs to show more consistency, more leadership. I think he needs to take the program back to where they all want it to be. I believe he’s well capable of it. He needs to have a good summer.”

The conventional wisdom was that Napier would be, at best, a mid-second round pick – if he was selected at all.

“Either one is crazy to leave school for,” a Western Conference scout said last month.

Only first-round draft picks get guaranteed money. Occasionally, a second-round pick will, as well, but that’s rare. In fact, it’s often considered better not to be drafted than to be selected in the second round. At least then, a player can then pick and choose from potential suitors.

Napier had a terrific junior season for the Huskies, leading the team in scoring (17.1 points per game), assists (4.8) and clutch shots (too many to count). The 6-foot-1 guard also averaged 4.4 rebound per game, second only to 6-8 forward Daniels’ 5.5.

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April 26, 2013 at 12:33 PM 

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