Napier, Daniels Drafted to NBA

Deandre Daniels, left, and Shabazz Napier are the first UConn players drafted to the NBA since Kevin Ollie became head coach in 2012-13. (Stephen Slade '89 (SFA) for UConn)

DeAndre Daniels, left, and Shabazz Napier are the first UConn players drafted to the NBA since Kevin Ollie became head coach in 2012-13. (Stephen Slade ’89 (SFA) for UConn)

UConn All-American guard Shabazz Napier ’14 (CLAS) became the 19th former Husky to be drafted in the first round Thursday night when the Charlotte Hornets selected him with the 24th pick of the 2014 NBA Draft. Within minutes, however, his rights were traded to the Miami Heat, the NBA Eastern Conference champion.

DeAndre Daniels became the second Husky selected in the 2014 draft one round later, when he was chosen by the Toronto Raptors with the 37th pick.

Napier, who led UConn to the fourth National Championship in school history, is the 39th UConn player picked overall in the post-1964 NBA draft, and the first since Kevin Ollie took over as head coach in 2012-13.

“It’s a blessing,” he said after he was drafted. “I’m going to compete my tail off like I always do.”

A four-year UConn player, Napier ranks fourth on the Huskies’ all-time scoring list (1,959 points), third in assists (646), first in games played (143), first in free throws made (509), and second in three-pointers made (260) and steals (251).

This past season, Napier led the Huskies in scoring, assists, free throw shooting, and minutes played, and was second in rebounding. A consensus first team All-American, he was named the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year, and won the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award.

During the NCAA tournament, Napier averaged 21.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and shooting 31 of 33 from the foul line. He was voted the Most Outstanding Player of the 2014 Final Four.

The Heat’s interest in Napier has been well-known since Heat star LeBron James tweeted about him after the NCAA Tournament. In recent days, there were rumors the Heat were trying to move up in the draft to be able to get Napier.

Daniels, a forward, improved every year during his three-year career at Storrs. He started 80 games, averaging 9.6 and 4.6 rebounds per game. This past year, he led the Huskies in scoring 11 times, and was second on the team with 54 blocks. He was named to the All-Final Four Team, after averaging 14.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in Connecticut’s last two games in the NCAA Tournament.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Daniels, after being picked by the Raptors.