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Shabazz Napier's return makes UConn a likely NCAA tourney team

By Jeff Goodman | College Basketball Insider

Napier can help coach Kevin Ollie put UConn back in the mix for postseason success. (Getty Images)
Napier can help coach Kevin Ollie put UConn back in the mix for postseason success. (Getty Images)

Shabazz Napier is staying at UConn for his senior season.

The Huskies guard considered leaving early, despite the fact that most NBA types project him as a second-rounder. The school made an official announcement on Friday afternoon.

The 6-foot-2 Napier played well most of this past season. But let's face it: He did so in somewhat obscurity because the Huskies weren't eligible for the postseason. His attitude and leadership improved significantly, and he finished the year averaging 17.1 points, 4.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds while shooting 40 percent beyond the arc. Those are some gaudy numbers.

Napier stuck around Storrs when he could have transferred or even thrown his name in the NBA Draft a year ago, so it's logical for Napier to come back and try to work his way into the conversation for the first round. It's also logical for him to try to put UConn back on the national map after a year in which few outside of the state talked much about the program.

Kevin Ollie will return its explosive backcourt of Napier and Ryan Boatright. He'll also bring back everyone else except for R.J. Evans, the Holy Cross transfer who averaged 3.1 points a year ago.

DeAndre Daniels and Omar Calhoun both averaged in double figures, and senior big man Tyler Olander returns. The key for the Huskies could be how quickly incoming freshman Kentan Facey, a much-needed body on the frontline, develops.

UConn finished 20-10 a year ago and 10-8 in the Big East despite playing primarily for pride. Now with Napier back in the fold, there's no reason to believe the Huskies won't be back in the NCAA tournament next season.

 
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