It took less than 24 hours for Shabazz Napier, who led the Connecticut Huskies to their fourth national championship, to get his number into the ‘Huskies of Honor.’
Upon arrival back to Storrs, Connecticut to throngs of fans waiting to see their newly crowned champs, Napier’s number 13 was unveiled — by his mother, Carmen Velasquez — on the wall of Gampel Pavilion alongside some of the greats in UConn men’s and women’s basketball history. Napier becomes just the 19th player to join the men’s Huskies of Honor and his number 13 sits right next to another great UConn point guard, Khalid El-Amin, who guided the Huskies to a national title over Duke in 1999.
It’s not the University’s hall of fame, but the honor is indeed just that. Some other Huskies recognized on the walls of the on-campus arena include, from the men’s program, Ray Allen, Rudy Gay, and the player Napier was compared to at least once or twice a game, Kemba Walker. Sue Bird, Rebecca Lobo, Diana Taurasi, and current head coach Geno Auriemma are among the 14 individuals honored on the women’s side, along with five national championship teams.
For Napier, an immediate entry onto the walls of Gampel is the only way to cap off a stellar career in Storrs. He could have transferred after sanctions were handed down banning the team from postseason play a year ago, but he stood by his school and teammates.
What good comes out of loyalty? A chance to go down as one of the best Huskies of all time, most likely. He finished his career with two national titles, 1,959 points, 646 assists, 251 steals — all top four in UConn history — and 576 career rebounds. He’s a point guard.
He’ll be missed in Storrs but the show will go on.