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Napier Here to Help Kemba Shoot Better

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Friday, April 23, 2010

David Borges
Location: Southington, CT, United States

Went up to Shabazz Napier’s “press conference” at the Tobin Community Center in Boston’s Mission Hill this afternoon. Napier’s announcement was supposed to come at 3 p.m., but had to wait until after a 3 p.m. youth hoops game inside the gym was finished. Wouldn’t you know, that game went to overtime.

Anyway, we finally got to chat a bit with Napier after he unveiled his UConn hat. Seems a good, personable kid. Definitely think he’ll help the Huskies on the court — and we’re talking right off the bat.

Some tidbits:

Napier, who will make his official visit to UConn this weekend, was blown away on his unofficial in February:

“I felt like this is the place I want to be,” he said. “It’s not too far away, my mother can come see every game like she always does. I just felt like I can make a life there.”

Napier grew up in the tough Mission Hill neighborhood of Roxbury, and by age 5, had fallen in love with basketball. He frequently played at the Tobin Community Center, where Friday’s brief press conference was held, tagging along with Will Blalock, the future Iowa State player, and Steve Hailey, who later played at Boston College.

Napier has emerged as a top-notch scoring point guard.

“When I went to the Reebok All-America camp, I showed everybody that I’m a true point guard,” he noted. “Teams I’ve been on, I have to score. But if you want me to be a passer, or if you want me to be a role player, I’ll do that. I’m so competitive, I want to win each game, no matter what. If I have to score 50 points or get 50 steals, that’s how I am.”

Napier knew current Huskies Alex Oriakhi, of Lowell, and Jamal Coombs-McDaniel of Boston through playing together in community center leagues and against each other in AAU ball. The two didn’t reallly influence Napier’s decision to go to UConn. He is, however, relishing the opportunity to share a backcourt with Kemba Walker.

“He’s a great player. He’s fast, I’m fast. We’ve played against each other, it’s hard. I think it’s going to be good, because he can teach me some certain things, and I guess I can teach him how to shoot better.”

Gotta love that.

Napier is in the process of re-classifying from a Class of 2011 recruit to 2010. The process won’t likely be complete until May, but he’s confident it will get squared away.

“I decided I’d rather go to college and be a better person, than stay in high school and be the same person I am,” he said. “Competitive-wise, (high school’s) not good anymore.”

Napier will take his SAT’s again in May. He hopes to be in Storrs over the summer to start working out and getting ready for the season. Napier was offered scholarships by schools like West Virginia, Florida, Miami and Memphis.

“But it really came down to Connecticut,” he said. “I felt like that was a special place. I think I can learn there, academically and on the court. Tough coach, (Jim) Calhoun, he’ll be screaming and yelling at me.”

Oh, and don’t say he’s only 5-foot-10 or 5-11.

“I’m going to clear that up. I’m not 5-11. I’m 6-feet and 170. I’m not 160, I’m 170. About to be 175 in a few minutes,” Napier said, apparently on his way to an early dinner.

Standing next to him, I’m on board with him being 6 feet tall.

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