UConn point guard Shabazz Napier made the cut for the Puerto Rican national team, but opted to return home because of discomfort in his right foot, the UConn athletic department announced Monday.
Napier, a rising junior, battled through several nagging injuries during a sophomore campaign in which he averaged 12.7 points and 5.8 assists per game on 38.9 percent shooting from the field. A left ankle injury limited him in the preseason, problems with his left knee flared up at times and a late-season foot problem kept him out of practice and almost sidelined him for a Feb. 20 game at Villanova (of course, Napier ended up burying the game-winning 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds remaining).
One of Napier’s top offseason priorities is to shake the minor injuries that haunted him throughout the 2011-12 season.
“I’m really focused on becoming better conditioned, getting my legs to a point where I feel I can run up and down without feeling any pain,” Napier said in late May. “I’ve been dealing with a lot. I had tendinitis, tired legs…the way I play, I’m bound to get hurt. I do what it takes.”
Napier, who will play off-the-ball this upcoming season, joins Ryan Boatright, incoming freshman Omar Calhoun and transfer R.J. Evans in a dynamic foursome that could become the league’s premier backcourt.