CHICAGO — So just how close are former Connecticut point guards Kemba Walker and Shabazz Napier?
“Super close,” Napier replied Thursday at the NBA Draft Combine. “Like I might not have to buy a house (if the Charlotte Bobcats drafted him). Just move in with him.”
Napier was a freshman on the 2010-11 Connecticut team Walker led to the national championship. Napier duplicated Walker’s feat in March, leading the Huskies to another NCAA title.
The two have stayed tight: When the Bobcats had a day off in April before a road game in Boston, Walker traveled to Connecticut’s campus to hang out with Napier. Now the Bobcats need a backup point guard and are drafting 24th overall in June – a spot where Napier could still be available.
“That would be cool,” Napier said of the prospect of a reunion with Walker. “Fun and ironic.”
The question in that scenario would be whether the Bobcats want two point guards so similar in stature and skill set. They are both listed at 6-foot-1. Walker weighs 184 pounds, Napier 182.
Not particularly big guys, but both with loaded resumes.
“I love to win and I’ll do whatever it takes,” Napier said, essentially parroting Walker’s point of view.
So what did Walker advise him about this pre-draft process?
“He told me to have fun with it. When you get here, you realize this is what you’ve worked for all your life,” Napier said. “Get ready to work your tail off because the next two months will be like no other. Prepare yourself.”
Napier knows he doesn’t have the ideal build for an NBA point guard, but as Walker demonstrated, that doesn’t preclude him from excelling.
“I’m not going to grow 3 inches tomorrow. (But) I don’t think height matters at all,” Napier said. “There are point guards a lot taller who aren’t capable of doing the things I’m capable of doing.”
“I’m someone who will push teammates, who will grow as a player. That’s what I showed each year (at Connecticut). I understand the game much better than a lot of guys.”
Notes: The Bobcats met with former Duke forward Rodney Hood Wednesday in Chicago. Hood said it was obvious Charlotte’s front office was more familiar with his game than other teams were. The Bobcats will pick 24th in the first round and have a remote chance of adding the Detroit Pistons’ lottery pick if it ends up outside the top eight. Hood, projected late lottery, said he’s sufficiently impressed with the Bobcats that he might work out for them even if they don’t get Detroit’s pick in June. ... The Bobcats are one of 11 teams that set up meetings with Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis. Ennis is generally projected to go 15-25. ... Former North Carolina forward James Michael McAdoo said best-case he’d be drafted late first round, but he’s prepared for the possibility he’s not drafted at all.
Rick Bonnell: (704) 358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell