It's been nearly three months since Shabazz Napier helped lead the Connecticut Huskies to a national title. On Thursday night, the point guard who reached just about every milestone in college, took the next step in his basketball career.
With the 24th pick in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft, Napier was selected by the Charlotte Hornets, a move that would reunite him with former teammate Kemba Walker – but word on the street is that Napier will be traded to the Miami Heat.
Napier arrived in Storrs as a fresh-faced kid out of Roxbury, Mass., and had a front-row seat as Kemba Walker but the team on his back on the way to a title. That experience served Napier well in subsequent seasons, through the lows (NCAA sanctions, players leaving for the NBA or other programs, Jim Calhoun's retirement) and the highs (Kevin Ollie's arrival, 2013-14's improbable run). And now he begins a new journey, one he's been eyeing for a very long time.
"I worked my tail off to accomplish this since I was a freshman," Napier said earlier this week. "I always believed in myself to be able to be in this position, so to be here now is just a special feeling with my family.
“When we play basketball we all have aspirations to play in the NBA. And especially being in the green room, being in the green room and shaking the commissioner’s hand. It’s something that I always looked forward to, but it took a lot of hard work. You have to dream big but you have to work harder.”
Earlier this month, Ollie spoke glowingly of Napier, telling The Hartford Courant, "Shabazz is going to handle everything, because he's a great leader, and NBA teams will see that.”