When people think of the University of Connecticut, their minds typically go straight to basketball. Although the women have been on top as of late, the men’s program has a remarkable history in itself.
After losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament in the last two seasons, the program has a lot of work to do. Under head coach Dan Hurley the team has had success, both nothing like the prestigious teams of the past. Speaking of the past, let’s take a look at the three best men’s players to wear a UConn jersey.
Shabazz Napier, #3
Remember that player the Miami Heat traded for in the 2014 NBA Draft to try to entice LeBron James to stay with the team? Yeah, that was Shabazz Napier. The plan did not work out and the NBA career of Napier did not pan out either. His college career was something special, however.
Napier played with some Husky legends such as Kemba Walker, Ryan Boatright, Andre Drummond and many more. He is a two-time college champion, and the program has not been the same since he graduated.
The 6-foot-1 point guard dominated his senior season averaging 18.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game in just over 35 minutes. Napier led UConn to a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament and the hungry Huskies eventually won it all. He was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament after beating Julius Randle and the Kentucky Wildcats.
Kemba Walker, #2
Having Kemba Walker at No. 2 on this list seems almost criminal, but remembering just how strong this Connecticut team has been over the years brings things to light. Walker, although getting slept on in the NBA as of late, was unstoppable in college.
Two words: Kardiac Kemba. Two of the best words in the history of college basketball. Walker was unguardable, and his step back broke ankles and broke hearts.
The multiple-time All-Big East player led the team to a national title in 2011 on one of the greatest UConn teams of all time. The crafty guard averaged just shy of 24 points in the title season before being selected with the ninth pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. UConn fans will forever recreate Walker’s step back when they are shooting around with their friends.
Richard Hamilton, #1
For the young ones reading, we are rewinding a few years back in the history book with this selection. Richard Hamilton is the best UConn men’s basketball player to ever put on a Husky jersey.
To begin the story of Rip Hamilton, he led the Huskies to their first-ever national championship in 1999. He earned the Most Oustanding Player of the tournament before he left to pursue an NBA career. The only reason Hamilton was almost second on our list is that he only stayed three years.
Hamilton averaged 21.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists in his final season. As he rocked #32, he was the Big East Player of the Year twice. In the 1999 NCAA tournament, Hamilton did not score under 20 points in any of the six games on the path to the championship. He put up 27 points and 7 rebounds against Duke in the championship.