It’s been a while since former UConn star Emeka Okafor played in the NBA. The former No. 2 overall draft pick has missed the last four seasons due to a neck injury, but has since recovered and now appears to be working towards a comeback.
According to the AP’s Jon Krawczynski, Okafor is “determined to return to the NBA”. He’s finally been cleared to play and has received some interest around the league. Despite turning 35 in September, Okafor’s time off means he won’t have as much wear and tear as other players his age.
Assuming he can return anywhere close to his previous level of play, Emeka is a solid option off the bench for a team in need of experienced help down low. While he never developed into the star many expected, Okafor was still productive, averaging 9.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game with the Wizards in 2013.
If Okafor signs with a team this summer, he will be the sixth former Husky in the NBA. Here’s how the other five fared this past season.
Andre Drummond - Detroit Pistons
The only one-and-done in UConn history, Drummond has quickly rocketed to become one of the premier post players in the NBA. He is an elite rebounder, averaging 13.8 per game while also adding 13.6 points per game. His biggest weakness comes at the foul line, where he shoots at a brutal 38.6%.
Drummond made the All Star team in 2015-2016 but was one of the biggest snubs this past season.
Kemba Walker - Charlotte Hornets
UConn was not left without an All Star, though. Kemba Walker was named to the team for the first time in his career this past season, arguably the best of his career. He averaged 23.3 points, 5.5 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game and has quickly become the face of the Hornets’ franchise.
Walker recently underwent arthroscopic knee surgery but will be ready for the start of the season as the recovery time is just six weeks. There have also been rumblings about Kemba being traded, but those appear to be nothing more than rumors for now.
Jeremy Lamb - Charlotte Hornets
From one Hornet to another, Jeremy Lamb has found a nice home for himself in Charlotte. After high expectations to start his NBA career, the No. 12 overall pick and a centerpiece of the James Harden trade, Lamb has settled into a solid role with the Hornets.
This year, he was one of just 10 guards to average 9.0 points per game on over 45% shooting while also grabbing 4.0 rebounds per game. He really hit his stride after the All Star break and has become a reliable option off the bench.
Shabazz Napier - Portland Trail Blazers
Life in the NBA hasn’t been kind to Shabazz Napier, who has played for three teams in three years. This past season was his most successful despite playing the fewest minutes of his career.
He proved himself to be a solid backup for the Trailblazers and has shined when given the chance to play extended minutes.
Rudy Gay - Sacramento Kings
Coming off the injury, Gay may sign a one-year “prove-it” deal and then cash in during the 2018 free agency period.
The number of former Huskies in the league has quickly dwindled in the past few years. Ray Allen and Rip Hamilton both retired and Caron Butler may not be far behind. Butler was out of the league this past season and will only return if the Cavaliers, Spurs or Warriors want him.
Speaking of returns, Ben Gordon is making a push to get back in the league as he signed a D-League contract in February. Another former UConn player in the D-League is Daniel Hamilton, who could earn a call up to the Oklahoma City Thunder if he shows well this summer.