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Napier makes his decision

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: theday.com

Published April 26. 2013 12:00PM   Updated April 26. 2013 1:31PM

Guard Shabazz Napier, UConn's leading scorer and team leader last season, announced today that he will return for his senior year.

Obviously, that's great news for the Huskies.

Napier averaged 17.1 points, 4.6 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 2.0 steals last season.

"I think Shabazz's decision is great for him and great for the university," said coach Kevin Ollie in a released statement. "I believe that first and foremost, it will give him a chance to earn his degree, which is something I know he'll really cherish.

"At the same time, he'll continue to hone his skills as a lead guard and contribute to us continuing the success of UConn basketball, but also he will keep cultivating the kind of atmosphere I want our student-athletes to be around. He was a big part of that with his leadership on and off the basketball court."

Expectations will rise considerably for UConn with Napier back. Starters Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels also plan to return, according to UConn.

Napier, Boatright (15.4 points) and Daniels (12.1) combined for the highest scoring average of any trio in the Big East last season.

UConn is only losing key reserve R.J. Evans from a team that went a surprising 20-10 overall.

UConn released this statement from Napier:

"After many days of figuring out what decision was best for my family and me, I finally came to a conclusion. Before I announce my decision, I would like to thank many generous people.

"I would like to thank Coach (Kevin) Ollie and the UConn coaching staff for their understanding and cooperation as my family and I needed space and time during this process of deciding what move was best for us.

Also, I would like to thank my teammates for allowing me to lean on their shoulders when I needed some support. I thank them for helping me get to this position in my life. Without them, along with the coaching staff, I would not be where I am now. Brendan Allen and Enosch Wolf, especially, were two people who made things a lot easier for me. I'd also like to thank the UConn fans for understanding as well. Their support for me and the team and their passion for the game have helped me tremendously.

"I'd like to give a special thanks to Coach (Jim) Calhoun, who has pushed me to become a better man, along with becoming a better player every day. We have spent many hours leading up to my decision, figuring out the pros and cons of staying and leaving.

"Of course, I would like to thank my family members, who have helped me through these difficult days and who have wanted nothing but the best for me. Most importantly, I'd like to thank my mother, who has inspired me to be the best that I can be and to try and be a great a role model for those who look up to me.

"That being said, I have decided to remain at UConn for my senior year. I am very much looking forward to getting closer to receiving my college degree, as well as becoming a stronger leader for my teammates on and off the court. We think we have a great team for next season and we're excited about playing for a conference championship and in the NCAA Tournament."

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