Unlike teammate Jeremy Lamb, who starred for the United States Under-19 team that finished fifth in Latvia in July, or the women's US U-19 team that included Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (as well as 2012 commitment Breanna Stewart) and won the whole thing just last week, UConn sophomore guard Shabazz Napier won't have the opportunity to represent his country. At least not this summer.
Last week, Napier was a finalist for the World University Games roster, one of 14 players vying for 12 spots. On Wednesday, he was the final cut and won't travel with the team to China later this month.
According to the Connecticut News' Neil Ostrout, Yale’s Greg Mangano, Notre Dame’s Tim Abromaitis, Pitt’s Ashton Gibbs and Syracuse’s Scoop Jardine were players who did make the roster.
“I think your strengths are going to come out in competition, and we have some very good players,” USA and Purdue University head coach Matt Painter said in a statement. “I think we have some good point-guard play, some good, athletic wings that can shoot the basketball and then we have some good interior strength. So, I think we have balance. We do have some interchangeable parts, some guys at the three and four positions that can swing either way. We can play smaller and we can play bigger. It will depend on who we are playing against. I do think we can play a couple of different ways, and that’s always a positive.”
It certainly would've been a good experience for Napier as he prepares to be the Huskies' floor leader next season. Lamb, who emerged late last season as a viable second option after Kemba Walker, blossomed into a game-changer during his stint with the national team this summer.
Still, Napier has been plenty busy during the offseason and whether he's a part of the World University Games or not, appears faster, stronger and smarter with a year of big-time college basketball under his belt. The experience would've been nice, for sure, but that doesn't mean he's not poised for a big year.