HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier announced Friday he will pass on the NBA draft and remain in school for his senior season.
``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,'' Napier said in a statement. ``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.''
UConn went 20-10 last season but was barred from the Big East and NCAA tournaments after failing to qualify academically.
Two other top Huskies, sophomores Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels, also told the coaching staff they will return. Boatright and Daniels had not been considered as likely to leave as Napier, the team's floor leader also who led UConn in scoring last season, averaging more than 17 points. The 6-foot-1 junior also averaged 4.6 assists, two steals and more than four rebounds per game.
Boatright averaged 15.4 points last season and Daniels was third in scoring, at just over 12 points, while leading the team in rebounding at 5.5 per game. Napier, Boatright and Daniels combined to form the highest scoring trio in the Big East.
``I'm pleased that all three of them will continue their education next year and their development as young men,'' coach Kevin Ollie said. ``As far as basketball is concerned, all of them improved last season and I expect that to continue through next year. We're all looking forward to what's ahead of us.''
Napier said he spent many days figuring out what the best move was for him, and discussed the decision at length with his family, teammates, Ollie and former coach Jim Calhoun.
``I'd like to give a special thanks to coach Calhoun, who has pushed me to become a better man, along with becoming a better player every day,'' he said. ``We have spent many hours leading up to my decision, figuring out the pros and cons of staying and leaving.''