Shabazz Bozie Napier is a nineteen year old freshman at the University of Connecticut. Shabazz has two blood related siblings, Timmie Barrows and Titana Velasquez. They all share the same mother, Carmen Velasquez, who did her best to raise the three, but times were beyond tough without a father figure in the children’s lives. Adding to their troubles was the fact that they lived in one of the worst sections in Boston (Mission Hill). Filled with drugs, prostitution, crime, and gang violence, the street were the place Carmen did all she could to keep her youngest (Shabazz) off of. When Shabazz was around eight years old, his mother went through a tough time financially and decided to send him to live with a close neighborhood friend, Will Blalock. Will, who was nine years older than Shabazz, was one of the best high school basketball players in country. He took Shabazz under his wing, teaching Shabazz the game of basketball. Identifying a natural talent, Will new Shabazz could be special, so every day he would take Shabazz after school to a gym, and both of them would play for hours.
When Will went off to college, Shabazz was starting to be noticed by everyone in Boston for his ability to play basketball. In middle school, he established himself as one of the most exciting basketball players to watch in all of Boston because of his flashiness with the basketball. Often times while playing, Shabazz would draw a large crowd, and he would always do his best to keep them in awe. Playing the game was never a problem for Shabazz; it was things off the court that drew criticism. No coach wanted Shabazz on his team because of his attitude and refusal to remain serious during games. In school he was not a great student, in fact he didn’t even get to walk in middle school graduation because the faculty thought he would not be able to handle the ceremony. His diploma was delivered to him through the mail.
Despite his attitude, many high school coaches in Boston public schools came knocking, trying to get Shabazz to attend their school after middle school. Ultimately, his mother decided Charlestown High School would be the place Shabazz would go. The commute was over an hour. So often times Shabazz would stay with friends to avoid the long travels.
In Shabazz’s first two years at Charlestown, he flew under the radar playing JV basketball both years. It wasn’t until the end of his sophomore year that the city began buzzing with Napier’s name as a result of an explosive tournament game in which he scored 37 points. He had just been moved up to varsity that week, and he seized the opportunity as soon as he was put into the game. In his junior year, Shabazz led Charlestown to an undefeated 20-0 regular season. There was no doubt Shabazz had all the basketball ability in the world at this point but the fact of matter was he was not eligible for college. After his junior basketball season, Shabazz’s AAU coaches Oscar and Maurice Vasquez had Shabazz apply to many Prep schools in New England so Shabazz could stay back and get his grades up to par so he could attend college. The problem wasn’t that Shabazz wasn’t smart enough; it was that he rarely attended school. He would often skip school when staying at his friend’s house, and his mother would have no knowledge that Shabazz had missed. The only time Shabazz would attend school would be during basketball season because he knew he had to in order to play. The summer before going into his senior year at Charlestown, Oscar got a call from Lawrence Academy in Groton, saying they would take a chance on Shabazz if he decided to come in as a sophomore. Shabazz, with basically no other option, agreed with excitement.
One he became a sophomore at Lawrence, Shabazz became the hot topic in the basketball world because of his new start and new grade placement. Everyone was anxious to see how he would do, and many people didn’t think it would be well. After a year and a half at Lawrence, Shabazz,was made himself into a new young man on and off the court. He managed to turn his grades around, making him more than eligible for college, and basketball-wise, he was about as well known as any high school kid in the nation. So, when hall of fame coach Jim Calhoun of Connecticut offered Shabazz a scholarship to leave school a year early near the end of his junior year he could not refuse. It was an opportunity he could not pass up, but in order accept it he had to withdraw from Lawrence and go back to Charlestown to be placed back in 12th grade so he could receive a diploma. The decision was really hard on Shabazz. He really wanted to say he graduated from Lawrence because without Lawrence he wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to a school like UCONN.
In his first season at UCONN, Shabazz played a major role in helping the Huskies win a national Championship. For his play on the court, he was named to the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team. He appeared in all 41 games and averaged 7.8 points, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game in a per game average of 23.8 minutes off the bench.
Last year when asked about playing with Kemba Bazz responded...“That’s terrific,” Napier said. “He’s a great player.”
“I think it’s going to be good,” Napier continued. “He can teach me certain things and I guess I can teach him how to shoot better.”