Shabazz Napier may play for Puerto Rico in Olympic qualifying
Orlando Magic guard Shabazz Napier could play for Puerto Rico in a last-chance Olympic basketball qualifying tournament in Serbia in July.
Napier, whose mother is Puerto Rican, was on a preliminary 24-man roster published by FIBA, citing Puerto Rican newspaper Primera Hora on Tuesday night, along with other current and former NBA players J.J. Barea, Carlos Arroyo, Renaldo Balkman, Maurice Harkless and John Holland.
The roster must be cut to 12 for the Olympic qualifying tournament, where Puerto Rico will be among six teams vying for one Olympic spot. Host Serbia, the reigning World silver medalist, is the favorite.
Another Puerto Rican newspaper, El Vocero, reported Napier will practice with prospective Puerto Rican Olympic players starting next week, citing a Puerto Rican basketball federation official.
After that report, the same official said an announcement regarding Napier would be made after a Wednesday meeting. No official announcement has been made, and the official hasn’t responded to requests for comment.
Napier was the 2014 Final Four Most Outstanding Player for the University of Connecticut and the No. 24 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
He averaged 5.1 and 3.7 points per game, respectively, for the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic the last two seasons.
Napier has never played on the senior international level.
On Friday, Arroyo confirmed to NBC Olympics that he plans to play for Puerto Rico in the Olympic qualifying tournament.
Arroyo, 36, was Puerto Rico’s star at the Athens 2004 Olympics, scoring 24 points with seven assists in an upset of the U.S. in their opening game. It marked the U.S. men’s basketball team’s first loss at the Olympics since 1988, before NBA players joined starting in 1992.