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From Hamilton to Napier: The Best of UConn Basketball

Introduction to UConn Basketball

When it comes to college basketball, few programs have achieved as much success as the University of Connecticut. Known colloquially as UConn, this Connecticut-based institution has produced some of the best basketball teams in NCAA history, thanks to a long line of talented players and coaches.

From the women’s team’s record-setting 11 championships to the men’s team’s legendary runs under Jim Calhoun and Kevin Ollie, UConn basketball has captivated fans young and old for decades. And while the program has had no shortage of talented players over the years, few have made as big an impact as

Richard Hamilton.

Richard Hamilton

Born on February 14th, 1978, in Coatesville, Pennsylvania,

Richard Hamilton was a natural athlete from a young age. Though he was a standout in both football and basketball in high school, he ultimately chose to pursue basketball at the college level, committing to UConn in 1996.

It didn’t take long for him to prove himself as one of the most talented players on the team, quickly earning a reputation as a scoring machine and a clutch performer.

Scoring and Championship Performance

Perhaps the most impressive thing about

Richard Hamilton’s college career was his ability to perform in clutch situations. This was perhaps never more evident than in the 1999 NCAA Tournament, when Hamilton led UConn to its first-ever national championship.

Throughout the tournament, Hamilton was a dominant force on both ends of the court, averaging more than 20 points per game and taking home Most Outstanding Player honors for his efforts. This was no fluke, either; Hamilton was a key part of the team in each of the following two seasons, helping UConn to a Big East championship in 2000 and a second Sweet 16 appearance in 2001.

Of course, it wasn’t just his clutch performances that made Hamilton so special. He was also one of the best pure scorers in college basketball during his time at UConn, thanks to a combination of skill, tenacity, and athleticism.

In his junior and senior seasons, he averaged more than 20 points per game, earning First-Team All-Big East honors in both years. He was particularly deadly from midrange, where his quick release and ability to read a defense made him nearly unstoppable.

NBA Success

It should come as no surprise that Hamilton’s success at the college level translated to the NBA. After being selected seventh overall by the Washington Wizards in the 1999 NBA Draft, he quickly established himself as one of the team’s top players.

In particular, his scoring ability was on full display, as he averaged more than 20 points per game in each of his final two seasons with the Wizards. However, it wasn’t until he was traded to the Detroit Pistons in 2002 that he truly found his footing at the professional level.

With the Pistons, Hamilton quickly became one of the league’s most consistent scorers and a key part of one of the NBA’s best defenses. In his first season with the team, he helped lead them to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they fell just short of a trip to the NBA Finals.

However, they wouldn’t be denied the following year; in 2004, Hamilton and the Pistons finally broke through, winning the NBA championship in stunning fashion. Hamilton was instrumental in the team’s success, averaging more than 21 points per game in the playoffs and earning recognition as one of the league’s top shooting guards.

Hamilton would go on to play for a few more teams over the course of his career, but it was his time with the Pistons that truly defined him as one of the best players of his generation. His scoring ability, clutch performances, and undeniable leadership skills made him an ideal running mate for players like Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace, and helped cement his place in NBA history.


Richard Hamilton may be best known for his success in the NBA, but his time at UConn helped lay the foundation for those achievements. His scoring ability, clutch performances, and commitment to excellence made him a fan favorite in Storrs, and set the stage for what would ultimately be one of the most successful basketball careers of his generation.

Today, he remains an inspiration to young athletes everywhere, a reminder that hard work and dedication can take you to the very top of your field.

Emeka Okafor

When it comes to dominant players in UConn basketball history,

Emeka Okafor is always near the top of the list. A native of Houston, Texas, Okafor arrived at UConn in 2001 as one of the most highly-touted prospects in the country.

And while he didn’t always receive the same level of media attention as some of his peers, his performance on the court spoke for itself.

Defensive Prowess

One of the things that made Okafor such a standout player was his defensive skills. Throughout his college career, he was a nearly-unstoppable force on the defensive end of the court, racking up a series of accolades and awards to recognize his prowess.

In his junior season alone, he averaged more than 4 blocked shots per game, earning Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors and cementing his place as one of the most feared defenders in the conference. And while his offensive skills were certainly nothing to sneeze at–he averaged more than 15 points per game in both his sophomore and junior seasons–it was his defensive acumen that truly set him apart.

Another area where Okafor excelled was on the glass. He was a tenacious rebounder throughout his UConn career, averaging more than 10 rebounds per game in both his junior and senior seasons.

This helped him to earn further recognition as one of the top players in the country, as he was named the Big East Player of the Year in both seasons. And while he never managed to lead UConn to a national championship–the closest they came was a trip to the Final Four in 2004–his individual accomplishments speak for themselves.

Academic Excellence

Of course, Okafor’s accomplishments didn’t only come on the basketball court. He was also an excellent student, something that often goes overlooked when discussing his legacy.

In his four years at UConn, he maintained an impressive GPA of 3.8, earning him a Bachelor’s degree in Finance in 2004. This academic excellence was recognized by a number of different organizations, including being named to the All-Academic Team by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

It’s clear that Okafor was every bit as dedicated to his work in the classroom as he was to his work on the court.

Kemba Walker


Emeka Okafor,

Kemba Walker is widely regarded as one of the best players in UConn basketball history. A Bronx native, Walker was a star from the moment he arrived on campus, quickly making a name for himself as one of the most dynamic point guards in the country.

Clutch Performance

Perhaps the most memorable moments of Walker’s UConn career came during the 2011 Big East Tournament. The tournament, which is always one of the most hotly-contested events in college basketball, was especially important that year; UConn was widely considered to be on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament, and a strong performance in the Big East could go a long way towards securing a spot.

Walker clearly understood the stakes, and he came out firing on all cylinders. Over the course of the tournament, Walker scored an astonishing 130 points in five games, including a number of clutch baskets that helped UConn secure victories.

Perhaps none were more memorable than his buzzer-beater against Pittsburgh in the tournament’s quarterfinals; with the score tied at 74 and time running out, Walker pulled up from the top of the key and nailed a contested shot as time expired, sending the Huskies into the semifinals in dramatic fashion. It was a moment that instantly became one of the most celebrated in UConn basketball history, and it cemented Walker’s status as one of the best clutch performers in the country.

Awards and Honors

Of course, the Big East Tournament was just one part of Walker’s incredible college career. Over the course of his three years at UConn, he racked up a long list of awards and honors that recognize his incredible skill on the court.

Perhaps most notably, he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, a well-deserved accolade that recognized his impressive performances in all six of UConn’s tournament games. He was also a two-time First-Team All-Big East selection and the winner of the prestigious Bob Cousy Award, given annually to the best point guard in the country.


UConn basketball has been home to some of the best players in NCAA history, and

Emeka Okafor and

Kemba Walker are both near the top of that list. Whether dominating on defense, scoring clutch baskets, or excelling in the classroom, these two players left an indelible mark on the program and on college basketball as a whole.

They are proof that athleticism and intelligence can go hand in hand, and an inspiration to young athletes everywhere.

Ray Allen

When it comes to UConn basketball legends, few players stand taller than

Ray Allen. Born on July 20, 1975, in Merced, California, Allen was a standout athlete from a young age, ultimately choosing basketball as his primary sport.

And while his career would take him to many different teams and cities over the years, his days at UConn remain among the most cherished by fans of the program.

Three-Point Scoring Record

One of the things that makes Allen so special is his incredible ability to score from beyond the arc. Over the course of his NBA career, he would set a number of records for three-pointers made and three-point shooting percentage, cementing his place as one of the best long-range shooters of all time.

However, this ability to drain shots from downtown was something that was already apparent during his time at UConn. During his three seasons with the Huskies (1993-1996), Allen was a true sharpshooter from deep.

In his junior season alone, he made an incredible 115 three-pointers, en route to averaging nearly 24 points per game and earning First-Team All-American honors. He left UConn with a then-record 277 made threes, and while that record would eventually be broken, he remains one of the most deadly outside shooters in UConn basketball history.

All-American and UConn Legacy

Of course, Allen’s accomplishments go far beyond just his three-point shooting. He was a true all-around player during his time at UConn, showcasing incredible athleticism, scoring ability, and basketball IQ.

He was named a consensus Second-Team All-American in his junior season, and his number 34 jersey was ultimately retired by the program. It’s clear that Allen remains cherished by UConn fans to this day.

From his prolific scoring to his electrifying dunks and game-winning shots, he was a truly memorable player and a key part of some of the best Huskies teams in program history. He may have gone on to achieve even more success in the NBA, but his legacy at UConn remains secure.

Ben Gordon

While he may not have the same level of name recognition as some of his peers,

Ben Gordon is nevertheless one of the most impressive players in UConn basketball history. Born on April 4, 1983, in London, England, Gordon quickly established himself as a standout player when he arrived at UConn in 2001.

March Madness Dominance

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Gordon’s UConn career was his penchant for taking over games when they mattered most. This was perhaps best exemplified during his 2004 NCAA Tournament run, where he led the Huskies to the national championship by scoring an unbelievable 127 points over six games, including a 32-point outburst in the title game against Georgia Tech.

It was one of the greatest individual performances in tournament history, and it cemented Gordon’s status as a clutch player and a true force to be reckoned with. In addition to his NCAA Tournament heroics, Gordon was also a dominant force in the Big East Tournament.

He was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament in both his freshman and sophomore seasons, capping off two incredible runs with the Huskies. And while his junior season would ultimately end in disappointment–UConn was upset in the second round of the NCAA Tournament–there was no denying his impact on the program during his time there.

NBA Success

After his incredible performance in the 2004 tournament, it was clear that Gordon had the potential to be a star at the NBA level. He was selected third overall in the 2004 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls, where he quickly established himself as one of the league’s top young players.

In his rookie season alone, he averaged more than 15 points per game and helped lead the team to the playoffs for the first time in years. Gordon would go on to have a long and successful NBA career, playing for teams like the Charlotte Bobcats, Detroit Pistons, and Orlando Magic.

He was particularly effective during his time with the Pistons, where he was named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2005 and played an instrumental role in the team’s 2009 playoff run. Though he may not have achieved the same level of individual acclaim as some of his peers, his longevity and consistency are a testament to his incredible skill and work ethic.


Ray Allen and

Ben Gordon may not always get the same level of recognition as some of their peers, but there’s no denying their impact on UConn basketball history. From Allen’s deadly outside shooting to Gordon’s clutch performances on the biggest stage, these two players helped establish the Huskies as one of the top programs in the country.

And while their journeys ultimately took them in different directions–Allen to a Hall of Fame NBA career, Gordon to a long and successful run in the league–their legacies at UConn remain secure.

Shabazz Napier

When it comes to the most memorable players in UConn basketball history,

Shabazz Napier is always at or near the top of the list. Born on July 14, 1991, in Roxbury, Massachusetts, Napier arrived at UConn in 2010 as one of the top point guard prospects in the country.

And while his UConn career would be marked by ups and downs, he ultimately left an indelible mark on the program and on college basketball as a whole.

Championship Success

Perhaps the most memorable moment of Napier’s college career came during the 2014 NCAA Tournament. That year, UConn was something of an underdog heading into the tournament, with many experts not expecting much from the team.

However, that didn’t stop Napier from putting his team on his back and leading them to another national championship. Over the course of the tournament, Napier was absolutely dominant, averaging more than 21 points per game and putting up huge numbers in the title game against Kentucky.

He was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player for his efforts, capping off an incredible college career that saw him named to the First-Team All-American and win the Bob Cousy Award as the nation’s top point guard.

NBA and European Career

After his time at UConn, Napier was selected 24th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets. He spent one season with the Hornets before being traded to the Miami Heat, where he enjoyed perhaps the best stretch of his NBA career.

In 2017-2018, he set career highs in points, assists, and three-point percentage, showcasing the kind of skill and athleticism that made him such a standout player at UConn. More recently, Napier

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