Shabazz Napier carries UConn into Sweet 16; how high can his draft stock rise?
After posting 24 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists in Connecticut's 89-81 OT win over St. Joe's in Round 1 of the tournament (I refuse to acknowledge the play-in games as the "first round"), Huskies point guard Shabazz Napier came back with an even bigger game in Round 2. Napier scored 25 points (on 9 of 13 shooting), along with 5 boards and 3 assists to key 7th seeded UConn's upset of #2 seed Villanova.
Napier's performance thus far is reminiscent of another recent Connecticut point guard, Kemba Walker. Walker put the Huskies on his back and carried them to the 2011 national title, eventually becoming the 9th pick in the NBA draft.
Throughout the season Napier has been primarily rated as a likely 2nd round pick, but his postseason exploits to this point will clearly elevate his status. Another big game (or two? UConn will play the winner of Iowa St. vs UNC) and it's possible the Roxbury, MA native could see his draft position climb as high as the mid to late first round, in the neighborhood of the Celtics second selection.