Pro Evaluation For Connecticut’s Shabazz Napier
Connecticut Huskies guard Shabazz Napier is a baller. Recognized as one of the best point guards in the country and arguably the most clutch player in all of college basketball, Napier has been a force to be reckoned with so far this season for the Huskies. He has done a little bit of everything, scoring 15.3 points, seven rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game so far this season. Recently he hit a game-winning shot at the buzzer to keep the Huskies’ perfect season alive. Due to his leadership, right now they sit at a perfect 9-0 and are ranked No. 10 in the country.
Napier seemingly makes all of the big plays. He has become more of a willing distributor this season, bringing his assist numbers up from 4.6 last season. Averaging seven rebounds per game, he is one of the best rebounding guards in the country. His field goal percentage and three-point percentage are also both up from last year, providing evidence of great decision-making. He often times changes pace with the ball and can explode to the basket or resort to a jump shot if isolated. Napier makes isolation match ups a pain for defenders as his handling moves are very impressive. Like former Husky Kemba Walker, he sports a step-back jumper and can shoot off-balance. Intangibles-wise he may be at the top of this year’s draft class. His confidence spreads to his teammates around him and makes everyone better.
At times, Napier can hold on to the ball and stand at the top of the key for too long, therefore wasting seconds on the shot clock. This doesn’t allow UConn to have a systematic approach on some offensive possessions. He is very streaky as well, and one night he can put up 30 points andput up five the next. At times he forces questionable shots. Also, as an older 22-year old, Napier might turn off some scouts.
After an All-AAC First Team selection at the conclusion of the season, I see Napier being selected in the late first round somewhere between picks 22-to-30, depending on a need for a backup point guard.
Dan Karpuc is an American Athletic Conference basketball writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @dan_karpuc, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.
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