During the 2014 NCAA Tournament, Shabazz Napier was obviously the Connecticut Huskies’ best basketball player. Lead by Napier, and with some help from DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright, UConn went on to become National Champions for the second time in four seasons. However, if it weren’t for Amida Brimah, the Huskies wouldn’t have even made it past the first round in last year’s tournament. With just under 45 seconds left, Napier would drive to the hoop against Saint Joseph’s, only to have his shot altered by forward Halil Kanacevic. Brimah, a raw freshman from Africa, got a key rebound and made a contested layup. He would also be fouled by Kanacevic and he would go the free throw line. Despite shooting 57% from the free throw line, Brimah would connect and he converted the three-point play. From there, the Huskies would go on to win in overtime, and eventually make their way to the Final Four, and defeat Kentucky in the National Championship.
Now, a season later, the Huskies no longer have Napier or Daniels, as both were drafted in the 2014 NBA Draft. Boatright has taken over the leadership role on this team, but they have struggled mightily in the early going. Although they were playing Coppin State, a team with just one win from the MEAC, the Huskies were coming off three straight losses, and were in desperate need of a victory. When it mattered most, Brimah scored 40 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. The 7-footer has always had talent and ability, but this game is just a sample of what is to come for Brimah. After playing soccer all his life, Brimah gave basketball a try in eighth grade. Brimah has only been playing basketball for six years, and is just starting to become a complete player.
In his freshman season at UConn, Brimah was one of the defensive captains of Kevin Ollie’s group. Brimah was the shot-blocker in the middle of the paint, and he was one of the reasons why the Huskies were one of the best teams in the country in defensive efficiency in 2013. The 19-year-old is now developing a short jumper, similar to the one Alex Oriakhi had for the Huskies just a few years ago. With a dribble-and-drive player like Boatright, the Huskies can create a nice pick-and-pop offense with Brimah. His development is still something to monitor, but this was a huge game for Brimah. From here, Brimah will likely not have another crazy impressive outing like this one, but he will continue to improve, making him a huge factor for the Huskies’ success this season.
*Section Photo credit to Ronald Martinez, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Bob Donnan, USA Today Sports.