Shabazz Napier to Connecticut

Shabazz Napier is headed for Storrs. The explosive, high scoring lead guard commits to the Huskies two weeks after the best pure point guard in New England pledges to the Friars. Let the storylines begin.

In December, compared the emerging Napier/Tharpe debate to that of the the 1996 draft’s top prospects, Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury.

Like Iverson, Shabazz is a tremendous scorer, one capable of putting points on the board so quickly and amazingly (ankle breaking drives, 3s from 30 feet) that it overshadows his play-making skills. While not the creator that Tharpe is, Napier is a far more effective passer than he gets credit for. Those skills were never more on display than in the NEPSAC Class C finals when he led Lawrence Academy over a bigger St. Mark’s team on a night in which his outside shot wasn’t falling.

Scoring point guards are often labeled as selfish or not true 1s, but Napier willingly makes plays for his teammates and does so effectively. Prior to last summer Napier was billed as more of a 3 point gunner than anything, a label that was unfair and one that he obliterated after a great summer and undefeated prep season.

While Shabazz has always had his doubters, Naadir Tharpe has been highly rated and coveted from early on in his high school career. He was a young point guard prodigy when he made the varsity team at St. Peter-Marian in Worcester, MA when he was in 8th grade.

While consistently being ranked in the top 60 nationally in most recruiting services since his first year at Brewster Academy, many of those that were impressed with his supreme play-making ability were quick to note that his jumper was a work in progress.

While Napier is known at the scorer, Tharpe has the ability to put points on the board, as he proved in his last year at St. Peter-Marian averaging 27 ppg, scoring 43, 31, 37, 31, 43, 34, 35, and 41 points in his last 8 games there.

When Napier answered questions about his passing ability, Tharpe did the same when it came to his outside shot.

A Budding Rivalry

The New England Recruiting Report is reporting that Napier will reclassify to the class of 2010 and begin his UConn career a year prior to Tharpe’s arrival at Providence. In a sense it would be a shame if Napier and Tharpe didn’t end up in the same class, as a great debate has raged across New England recruiting circles over the past year as to who the better point guard prospect is. Everyone seems to have an opinion and to see them go toe to toe, in the same conference, playing on states bordering each other for all four years, would have been a pleasure.

Throughout their prep careers the NERR had Tharpe rated as the top New England player in the class of 2011, until recently when Napier and Syracuse commit Mike Carter-Williams surpassed him late this year.

ESPN has Tharpe rated 51st nationally. Napier is 52nd.

One will lead traditional New England AAU power BABC this summer. The other is a mainstain of the upstart New England Playaz.

Napier was the star of the Class C champions. Tharpe led a team of stars to the Class A and National Championships.

One is headed to the current king of New England. The other is looking to lead a revival of the region’s former power.

There’s no doubt they’ve heard the whispers about who is better and have to be eager to prove who is better.

Some preferred AI, others Marbury. This should be fun.

For more on Shabazz Napier:

Posted by Friar_Basketball at 8:38 AM
Labels: naadir tharpe, shabazz napier

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