UConn losing senior point guard Shabazz Napier to graduation will absolutely hurt the Huskies’ chances at repeating for a national title next season. That much is obvious. But even though Kevin Ollie’s team is losing Napier to the Miami Heat next season, UConn could be in better position in terms of backcourt depth for next season.
The beginning of UConn’s semi-new-look backcourt is rising-senior guard Ryan Boatright. The 6-foot, ultra-quick guard averaged 32 minutes a game last year and turned up his play significantly in March and was a big reason UConn was able to make a run to the title. For as great as Napier was in the Tournament, he needed running mates like Boatright and another NBA Draft-defect, DeAndre Daniels, to play better and they did.
Boatright is a no-brainer to return to the starting lineup for UConn, but he’ll have a deeper amount of talented players around him this season than the minutes-heavy backcourt that had to play last year. Remember, Shabazz Napier averaged 35 minutes a game last season and UConn didn’t have many reliable options behind Boatright and Napier.
North Carolina State transfer Rodney Purvis redshirted last season after coming to Storrs after one season in the ACC. A former McDonald’s All-American, Purvis should be able to score and do damage off-the-dribble from game one next season. Neither Purvis or Boatright is a reliable point guard, but good luck stopping both of those guys from getting to the rim.
Replacing Napier in the point guard ranks will be junior college transfer Sam Cassell Jr. The 6-foot-4 son of former NBA veteran Sam Cassell, Cassell Jr., is already on campus and Kevin Ollie had positive things to say about him to Dom Amore of the Hartford Courant.
“Sam is doing excellent. He’s a hard worker, very mature kid. He’s embracing coaching. From all the things I’ve seen on and off the court, he’s going to fit right into our program,” Ollie said to Amore.
When you put those three guards together with a more experienced Terrence Samuel and UConn has a very deep backcourt heading into next season. They have four guards that have experience in college basketball and as Cassell Jr., noted to Amore, “We’re all different in some kind of way so we all can fit in.”
UConn is never going to replace Napier with one player but they’ll have two new pieces and two veterans returning and their backcourt should still be in great shape heading into next season.