Shabazz Muhammad

Comments by Shabazz Muhammad’s lawyer are not a good sign


It sounds like Shabazz Muhammad might be in trouble when it comes to his NCAA eligibility.

Let’s ignore what we already know for a second. Let’s forget about the fact that he wasn’t cleared to go on a trip to China with the rest of his UCLA team and that his sister is sponsored by the same shoe company that sponsored his AAU team and sponsors UCLA. Let’s get past all the issues with his association to agents and financial advisers and all of the mess surrounding his unofficial visits across the country.

All you need to know about Muhammad’s attempt to become NCAA eligible is this quote that his lawyer, Robert Orr, gave to the LA Times on Sunday night:

“Shabazz didn’t even turn 18 until November of 2011 and until he signed with UCLA in April of this year was not under NCAA jurisdiction,” Orr said.

Obviously, we don’t know the context of the quote, so this will all be speculation. But the speculation isn’t all that difficult, is it? This is, essentially, Orr telling one of the biggest papers in the country that the NCAA shouldn’t be allowed to punish Muhammad — or, for that matter, Anderson or any recruit that asks for an NLI signing bonus or has their recruitment brokered by an agent — for the amateurism violations his committed while in high school.

That’s not a defense. That’s a technicality. That’s semantics. That’s Ross trying to convince Rachel he didn’t cheat on her because they were on a break.

And it doesn’t even work. Take, for example, NCAA Bylaw 12.01.3, which says:

NCAA amateur status may be lost as a result of activities prior to enrollment in college. If NCAA rules specify that an “individual” may or may not participate in certain activities, this term refers to a person prior to and after enrollment in a member institution. If NCAA rules specify a “student-athlete,” the legislation applies only to that person’s activities after enrollment.

If you continue on to NCAA Bylaw 12.1.2, you’ll find this (my emphasis added):

An individual loses amateur status and thus shall not be eligible for intercollegiate competition in a particular sport if the individual:

(a) Uses his or her athletics skill (directly or indirectly) for pay in any form in that sport;
(b) Accepts a promise of pay even if such pay is to be received following completion of intercollegiate athletics participation;
(c) Signs a contract or commitment of any kind to play professional athletics, regardless of its legal enforceability or any consideration received, except as permitted in Bylaw  4/29/10 effective 8/1/10)
(d) Receives, directly or indirectly, a salary, reimbursement of expenses or any other form of financial assistance from a professional sports organization based on athletics skill or participation, except as permitted by NCAA rules and regulations;
(e) Competes on any professional athletics team per Bylaw 12.02.5, even if no pay or remuneration for expenses was received, except as permitted in Bylaw;  (Revised: 4/25/02 effective 8/1/02, 4/29/10 effective 8/1/10)
(f) After initial full-time collegiate enrollment, enters into a professional draft (see Bylaw 12.2.4); or  (Revised: 4/25/02 effective 8/1/02, 4/24/03 effective 8/1/03)
(g) Enters into an agreement with an agent. (Adopted: 4/25/02 effective 8/1/02)

So, you see, the NCAA is quite clear on these matters.

What that means is that Muhammad’s lawyer is getting ready to go back and attack the very basis on which the NCAA determines pre-enrollment amateurism.

That means one of two things: either Muhammad knows that the NCAA has him dead-to-rights accepting illegal benefits that would jeopardize his amateurism, or his has a really bad lawyer.

Either way, that’s not a promising sign for UCLA fans.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.

Tyler Ulis injured as No. 1 Kentucky beats South Florida

Tyler Ulis, Ky Howard
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MIAMI (AP) Jamal Murray had 21 points and No. 1 Kentucky scored the final 15 points of the first half on the way to beating South Florida 84-63 in the HoopHall Miami Invitational on Friday.

Skal Labissiere added 17 points for the Wildcats (6-0), who led by as many as 31. Charles Matthews scored 11 points and Isaiah Briscoe finished with seven assists for Kentucky, now a winner of 37 consecutive regular-season games and 39 in a row against unranked opponents.

Chris Perry scored 14 points for USF (1-5), which has lost 18 consecutive games against teams ranked in the Top 25. Jaleel Cousins added 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, and Jahmal McMurray scored 11 points for the Bulls.

Kentucky played the second half without starting guard Tyler Ulis, who departed with a right elbow injury after getting hurt while fighting for a ball loose on the floor.

Kentucky announced after the game that the injury was a hyperextension of the elbow and that he will be day-to-day.

The Bulls were within 27-21 with 6 minutes left in the first half after McMurray banked in a 3-pointer only a few feet away from where John Calipari was standing, and the look of anguish on the Kentucky coach’s face was clear.

It didn’t last long.

The Wildcats scored on seven of their next nine possessions and the game was over by halftime, Kentucky going into the break with a 42-21 lead.

It was a reunion for plenty of people on both benches. Calipari squared off with his former assistant Orlando Antigua, now in his second year leading USF. Antigua’s staff includes another former Calipari assistant in Rod Strickland, plus former Kentucky basketball staff members Mike Malone and Dominic Lombardi.

So the staffs have plenty of familiarity. On the court, there was plenty of disparity. Kentucky finished with a commanding 23-6 edge in points off turnovers and finished with 16 assists to the Bulls’ six.