Shabazz Napier, Kevin Ollie

UConn point guard Shabazz Napier to return for senior season

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UConn received some good news Friday morning, as point guard Shabazz Napier notified coaches of his intentions to return for his senior campaign.

And with guard Ryan Boatright and forward DeAndre Daniels deciding the same the Huskies should be a contender in the American Athletic Conference next season, with Louisville and Memphis being the likely preseason favorites.

“After many days of figuring out what decision was best for my family and me, I have decided to remain at UConn for my senior year,” Napier said in a statement released by the school. “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.”

(CLICK HERE to follow along with who is turning pro and who is returning to school.)

Napier was a big reason why Kevin Ollie’s first season as head coach was a success despite a mass exodus from the program due to UConn being declared ineligible for postseason play. The point guard from Roxbury, Mass. averaged 17.1 points, 4.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game last season, leading the Huskies to 20 wins and a 9-9 record in the Big East.

With their three most talented players returning the question for UConn will once again be their front court. Daniels played well as an undersized four but the fact remains that the Huskies need to get more from their “true” big men.

Tyler Olander struggled for much of the 2012-13 season and it remains to be seen what will happen with Enosch Wolf after legal issues resulted in his being suspended in February. The charges against Wolf were dismissed last week. UConn adds signees Amida Brimah and Kentan Facey to the program, and rising sophomore Phil Nolan saw increased playing time late in the season.

But for the questions Ollie and his staff have to answer in the paint, there are no such issues on the perimeter with Napier leading the way.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
AP Photo
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.


PHOTO: South Carolina gets new uniforms

Frank Martin
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South Carolina debuted some new uniforms early this week as the school is going with a fresh look and three color ways.

They’re also going to with the “Carolina” branding this season, but I think these new uniforms look pretty cool.