There are prolific scorers such as Wes Bialosuknia in the 1960s, Tony Hanson in the 1970s, Ray Allen in the 1990s, and Ben Gordon in 2000s. There are pure, pass-first point guards, from current head coach Kevin Ollie in the '90s to guys such as Taliek Brown and Marcus Williams over the past decade or so.
And there are the guards that operated in both worlds: Kemba Walker, Chris Smith, Tate George, Khalid El-Amin, and, of course, Shabazz Napier.
Yet as UConn steps into the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament, facing Iowa State Friday at Madison Square Garden, Napier might take a place near the top of the guard list. UConn has a long history of great guard play — and, specifically, great point guard play — but Napier is distinguishing himself.
Consider the numbers. The senior has played 139 games (UConn has won 100 of them), which is second behind Kevin Freeman (140) for the most in program history. This season, he leads the team in scoring (17.8), assists (4.8), rebounds (5.9) and steals (1.8).
Overall, he is fifth in program history in scoring with 1,881 points. Next on the list is Allen (1,922) and Hanson (1,990). The leaders are Smith (2,145) and Richard Hamilton (2,036).
Napier is also third on the assist list with 628, trailing only Brown (722) and George (677). He was a member of an NCAA title team as a freshman, was the American Athletic Conference player of year as a senior and persevered through a season when the program was banned from postseason play, while steadily becoming the team's leader.
So just where does he fit on the Mount Rushmore of UConn guards?
"I don't think another guard has been through the ups and downs that Shabazz went through," Ollie said Thursday. "Winning the national championship his freshman year, kind of having the year he had with all the talent we had … and then going through the ban and still carrying the banner. He's done an amazing job.
"I know in a lot of stats, nobody has played or did the things he's done. ... Nobody's led us in points and rebounds and assists in one year. So, you've got to put him up there. I don't know where he sits, but you've got to put him up there."
Allen was a productive scorer and has built a Hall of Fame resume in the NBA, but he didn't win an NCAA title. El-Amin's swagger helped will UConn to its first title in 1999 and the 2004 championship team had a traditional backcourt, with Brown distributing and Gordon scoring.
Really, though, the discussion of great UConn guards begins with Walker. His sublime performance in 2011 was among the great shows by any college basketball player.
Walker averaged 23.5 points, 4.5 assists and 5.4 rebounds while carrying UConn to an improbable title run. In three seasons, he scored 1,783 points (eighth in program history) and had 460 assists (11th).
"One of the greatest gifts he had, he was fearless, he played with a great joy, and once he got a green light, more and more, he never had fear," former coach Jim Calhoun said. "You're going to make a decision, it may be right or it may be wrong, but you've got to make it. Kemba played the game without fear, and that allowed him not to think about the moment, but about what was going to happen after he made the shot."
Don't think that approach didn't leave an impression on Napier, who was Walker's teammate for one season.
"That was big, that was huge," Ollie said. "He was kind of like Kemba's shadow. … I think he learned a lot. Kemba was a great scorer, a great competitor, but he was a great leader, too. He was an assassin, but he was always thinking about his teammates and reflecting all the attention on his teammates. I think Shabazz is getting that feeling now, where it's not all about him and his teammates have a big part in his success. He's letting the world know that, which is a great attribute for a leader."
Napier said Thursday that he learned about leadership and character from Walker, who imparted lessons on keeping the entire roster together and distributing the ball on the court, emphasizing a team-first approach.
"So it's not what Shabazz is doing, it's what everybody's doing collectively," Napier said.
Don't discount the lineage in the program. Villanova coach Jay Wright recently praised Napier as one of the best ball-fakers in the country, a skill that was handed down through a few generations of UConn guards.
"I learned that from Kemba Walker," Napier said. "He did the 'step back, pump fake, got you in the air, got to the foul line.' When you learn something from a great player, and I believe he learned it from A.J. Price ... you tend to use it when you need it."