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Napier selected 24th by Hornets in NBA Draft, traded to Heat

UConn great could be the player that keeps LeBron James in Miami

By Tim Fontenault
On June 26, 2014

Shabazz Napier celebrates on the court at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas after UConn defeated Kentucky in the 2014 National Championship Game. (JONATHAN KULAKOFSKY/The Daily Campus)

In a matter of minutes, UConn great Shabazz Napier went from reuniting with his mentor and former teammate to being the piece that may keep LeBron James in South Beach.

Napier, who led UConn to the national championship in April, was selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the 24th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft Thursday night. Playing in Charlotte would mean playing with Kemba Walker, who was UConn’s starting point guard when the Huskies won the 2011 national championship. However, Napier will be traded to the Miami Heat, pending league approval.

Charlotte will receive 26th overall selection P.J. Hairston and a second round pick.

James opted out of his contract with the Heat earlier this week after losing to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. When UConn won the national championship, James tweeted that there was not a point guard he would take in the draft ahead of Napier, and he has continued to voice his opinion since.

With Napier soon to be in the picture, Miami hopes that James will choose to stay in Miami, which would likely also mean that UConn legend Ray Allen remains as well. Allen has said that he wants to follow James in free agency this year.

Napier almost left UConn after his junior season, a season marred by the Huskies’ postseason ban, but he made the decision to return to finish his education and play for a second national championship. About one month before receiving his diploma, Napier led UConn won the program’s fourth national title.

A native of Roxbury, Massachusetts, Napier finished his UConn career ranked first in games played (143), fourth in scoring (1,959 points) and third in assists (646). During his senior year, he was named the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year, an AP First Team All-American and the winner of the Bob Cousy Award as the nation’s best point guard.

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