Muhammad

Shabazz Muhammad’s AAU coach speaks out about NCAA investigation

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On the first night of the college basketball season, UCLA enters its first practice with questions of whether or not their two top recruits – Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson – will be able to play this year, as they are both under NCAA investigation.

Shabazz Muhammad, one of the nation’s top freshmen, has faced the brunt of it and for the first time, someone close to the 6-foot-6 guard has spoken about against the alleged violations.

In a report by the Los Angeles Times, Baxter Holmes, the NCAA is looking into money Muhammad received to pay for unofficial visits, as well as Ken Kavanagh, a New York financial planner, who partially funded Muhammad’s summer team.

According to the report, Kavanagh made a personal loan to Muhammad’s AAU team, Dream Vision, when the team lacked funds. Clayton Williams, the team’s coach, said he has known Kavanagh for decades and told the L.A. Times that “hasn’t said two words to Shabazz.”

The report also goes on to discuss the payments for the unofficial visits to Duke and North Carolina, however Williams explained that those were all cleared with both of the school’s compliance offices.

The piece went on to discuss a Cadillac Muhammad was seen driving and even the house he and his parents, Ron Holmes and Faye Muhammad live in:

Muhammad also raised eyebrows by driving a cream-colored Cadillac Escalade. Persons who know the family, including Williams, say it is a high-mileage 2005 model that was a gift Shabazz received last year from his sister Asia, a professional tennis player who made the down payment.

Asia Muhammad has struggled with injuries since joining the professional tennis tour in 2006, but she has more than $100,000 in career earnings.

Public records and interviews with acquaintances indicate the family has financial resources. Holmes and Faye Muhammad reside in a 4,400 square-foot, four-bedroom home in a gated community about 10 miles south of downtown Las Vegas. Holmes Consulting LLC, a business that lists both Holmes and his wife as officers, is registered at the same address.

The family does not own the home, Nevada records show, but Holmes has made a living as a real estate investor since the mid-1980s.

Muhammad picked UCLA back in April over USC, Duke, Kansas, and others. According to Williams, picking UCLA gave Muhammad a chance to build the program back up. The NCAA began investigating Anderson back in September and head coach Ben Howland still hasn’t heard from the NCAA about a decision.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Auburn suspends leading scorer Canty indefinitely

Auburn guard Kareem Canty (1) screams in pain after being fouled during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Auburn, Ala. Auburn won 75-70.  (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
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Prior to Auburn’s game at Georgia Saturday evening, head coach Bruce Pearl announced that leading scorer and starting point guard Kareem Canty has been suspended indefinitely.

Canty’s currently averaging 18.3 points per game and his abilities as a scorer and distributor have been key for the Tigers offensively. When Canty returns to the court remains to be seen, with Pearl noting that Canty may be able to return before the end of the season.

“Kareem has had some strong moments for our team this season,” Pearl said. “He has demonstrated that at the highest level of competition, he can win his matchup.

“However, his effort and attitude have been extremely inconsistent, which led to actions and behavior that are unacceptable. He will step away from the team for a while and may return later in the season. He is suspended indefinitely.”

According to the release Cinmeon Bowers will move into the starting lineup for Auburn, which is now 9-13 overall and 3-7 in SEC play. Auburn’s lost five straight and eight of their last ten games after losing by ten at Georgia Saturday night.

Without him more minutes are available to freshman New Williams, who played 22 minutes against Georgia. Bryce Brown started and played 18 minutes, with Devin Waddell playing 12 minutes off the bench.

Jamal Murray, Tyler Ulis go crazy, No. 20 Kentucky beats Florida by 19

Kentucky's Jamal Murray (23) shoots near Missouri's Ryan Rosburg during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
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Jamal Murray scored a career-high 35 points and became the first Kentucky player to hit eight threes in a game since 2010.

Tyler Ulis had 18 points and 11 assists.

As a result, No. 20 Kentucky bounced back Tuesday’s loss to Tennessee — when the Wildcats blew a 21-point lead — as they blew out a good Florida team, 80-61. The final score doesn’t really do the beat down justice, either. Kentucky was up 24-5 seven minutes into the game. The Gators, who look like they may end up being seeded as high as the No. 6 line on Selection Sunday, never had a chance.

If Kentucky was trying to prove a point, they did. I’m not sure if Murray and Ulis make up the nation’s best back court in college basketball, but on Saturday, they looked like the best back court in the entire world. They were awesome.

So awesome, in fact, that they were responsible for 64 of Kentucky’s 80 points tonight.

And that’s where this win can be a bit concerning.

Look, the issue with Kentucky is that they don’t get near enough production out of their front court, and if the knee injury that kept Alex Poythress out of the lineup on Saturday ends up being at all serious, than UK’s most productive big will be out of commission. On Saturday, Kentucky’s front court — minus Derek Willis, who is more of a wing that’s been slotted at the four — finished with a grand total of 10 points, 15 boards and 12 fouls.

That issue isn’t going away just because Ulis and Murray played an unbelievable game against one of the nation’s top five defenses, according to KenPom.com. You don’t buy a house with termites just because you love the way that it’s furnished.

But what this performance shows you is what Kentucky’s ceiling is, what they are capable of on the night’s when their two stars play like stars.

If they get hot at the right time, they can beat anyone in March. Hell, this could be enough to carry them to the Elite 8, maybe further.

When those two can play that well in a season where there is no dominant team, you can’t really count anything out.

But it also means that Kentucky is capable of losing to anyone on any given night, and all it takes is one cold shooting night for Kentucky’s run in March to come to an early end.