June 25, 2024

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Shabazz Napier most outstanding

ESPN.com news services

ARLINGTON, Texas — Connecticut’s exclusive club of elite guards welcomed a new member Monday night.

Amid a rain of confetti, Shabazz Napier basked in the celebration on the court after being named the most outstanding player of the Final Four following the 60-54 win over Kentucky.

“You’re looking at the hungry Huskies,” Napier told the crowd and TV audience. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is what happens when you banned us.”

A year ago, the Huskies were preparing for their first season in the new American Athletic Conference after being booted from the Big East and not welcomed by any of the so-called power conferences. Jim Calhoun, who built the program, had left because of health problems. And most damaging — the NCAA postseason ban had triggered an exodus of five key players to the NBA or other schools.

But Napier stuck around. On Monday night, he had 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting with six rebounds and played lockdown defense in his final collegiate game.

His career began as a freshman on the 2011 Connecticut team that won the title behind star guard Kemba Walker.

Now, Napier is the man.

“I will say one thing when they say Ray, Rip, Ben, Emeka, Kemba — they’ll soon say Shabazz,” Calhoun, who won the 2011 title, said after watching the 2014 squad cut down the nets.

Calhoun was referring to Ray Allen, Richard “Rip” Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor and Kemba Walker. All except Okafor were guards.

Not bad company at all.

READ FULL STORY HERE: http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/tournament/2014/story/_/id/10747545/shabazz-napier-connecticut-huskies-named-most-outstanding-player

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