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Connecticut's Shabazz Napier, center is pressured by American International College's Ricky Hudson, left, and Spencer Braithwaite, right, during the second half of a men's NCAA basketball game in Storrs, Conn., Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012. Connecticut won 78-63. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Shabazz Napier has never been under the radar in his career.

The freshman from Boston stepped on the campus at the University of Connecticut and didn't even flinch playing besides guard Kemba Walker. He won the national championship as a freshman and was one of the leaders of another NCAA team a season ago as a sophomore. He's one of the best guards overall in the Big East and has been in the spotlight since he got here.

But, is Napier now underrated?

The junior guard was snubbed from the Bob Cousy Award's Top 2o list for nations top point guard despite an excellent junior campaign. Napier and sophomore guard Ryan Boatright -- 16.2 and 4.5 assists per game -- operate as co-point guards for the Huskies but without question, Napier is the floor leader.

The junior is leading the 11-3 Huskies in points and incredibly enough even rebounding with a robust 17.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and is second in assists at 4.0 per game with 2.1 steals per game.

Napier is the engine for the surprising Huskies and is shooting a respectable 43.5 percent from the floor and 38.9 percent from 3-point range and over 80 percent from the line.

The 6-0 foot junior is coming off a masterful game  DePaul on Tuesday where he went from 16 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, four steals and ZERO turnovers.

That was coming off a 29 point effort in an OT loss to Marquette.

How is this possible?

The Cousy committee named 20 other point guards in the nation better than Napier today including Big East players Peyton Siva of Louisville and Michael Carter-Williams of Syracuse

Siva, a blur of a player is averaging 11.1 points and 6.1 assists per game while Carter-Williams is at 12 points, 9 assists and five rebounds per game.

The only explanation is that no one is watching and Napier is being punished for the Huskies being ineligible for the NCAA tournament this season. Napier talked about the fallout of the NCAA ban in recent weeks and has reiterated on several occasions that the current class is being punished for things they did not do.  Any mention of academic failings -- the reason UConn is under a ban -- makes Napier bristle.

The Huskies team has to suffer a punishment for past transgressions and it seems the fallout of that is affecting even how others look at the accomplishments of the Huskies, who play at Notre Dame on Saturday.

Here's Napier after a Dec. 29 win over Washington talking about not playing in the NCAA tournament and still being motivated to play.

"No one goes out there and not want to win," Napier said. "I've been playing this game since I was five. I am not not going to play hard because I can't make the tournament. It sucks, I think  about it all the time. That's what we want to play for. Sometimes you have to deal with what's given to you.  Sometimes you can't change your cards."
Even if it isn't his fault, Napier is getting painted with a tained brush of past UConn failures.

Here is the Cousy finalist list

Jahii Carson (Arizona State)

Pierre Jackson (Baylor)

Quinn Cook (Duke)

Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga)

Keith Appling (Michigan State)

Isaiah Canaan (Murray State)

Kendall Williams (New Mexico)

Lorenzo Brown (NC State)

Aaron Craft (Ohio State)

D.J. Cooper (Ohio)

Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State)

Nate Wolters (South Dakota State)

Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse)

Mark Lyons (Arizona)

Ray McCallum (Detroit)

Peyton Siva (Louisville)

Trey Burke (Michigan)

Andre Hollins (Minnesota)

Phil Pressey (Missouri)

Erick Green (Virginia Tech)

Tags: Men's Basketball, UCONN
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