Napier Named AAC Player of the Year


It's a perfect ending to a near-perfect career:  UConn senior point guard and team leader Shabazz Napier was  named Wednesday the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year.

The Roxbury, Mass., native beat out two other guards -- Louisville's Russ Smith and Cincinnati's Sean Kilpatrick -- for the honor (all three players were named first-team All-Americans by Sports Illustrated).

Napier leads the Huskies (24-7) in scoring (17.8), rebounds (6.0), assists (5.2), steals (1.8) and minutes played (34.8).

"Shabazz is just the heartbeat of our team," coach Kevin Ollie said recently. "He leads us in all the important categories ... he just means so much to our team dynamic."

Napier continues to rack up the recognition. He had previously won AAC Player of the Week on five occasions, earned AAC first-team honors, not to mention the eight times he made the AAC honor roll.

Last October, Napier was named to the Bob Cousy watch list, the annual honor that goes to the best collegiate point guard in the country. In January, he was one of 25 candidates for the Wooden Award, which recognizes the nation's best player, and in February, he found himself on the midseason watch list along with 29 other candidates for the Naismith Men's Player of the Year Award, which also goes to the nation's best player.

And last month, Napier added his name to another honor, this time, along with 14 other players, the 2014 Oscar Robertson National Player of the Year Trophy.

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