UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad dropping weight, hopes to be in peak form by Pac-12 play

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Amidst the mess that became of Shabazz Muhammad’s NCAA eligibility ordeal earlier this season, one fact was lost. In addition to fighting his way toward being cleared, the 6-6 freshman was battling back from a shoulder injury that had sidelined him since late October.

Unable to work out, Muhammad did not look to be in game shape when he made his debut for UCLA in Brooklyn on Oct. 19, having added some pounds and without the explosiveness that he was lauded for in high school.

That’s all beginning to change, according to the Los Angeles Times.

According to the paper, Muhammad’s weight had ballooned to 230 pounds this season, up from his high school weight of 215.

“I was really out of shape,” Muhammad told the Times. He has since lost 10 pounds and plans to lose five more.

“I’m really getting up and showing my explosive ability that I had all along,” he said.

After missing the first three games of the season while the NCAA reviewed his eligibility status, Muhammad has worked to become UCLA’s second-leading scorer, behind fellow freshman Jordan Adams.

He has scored in double digits in all six games he has seen minutes, including a career-high 21 points against Georgia in the Bruins’ second game in Brooklyn in October.

Coach Ben Howland says he expects Muhammad to reach “peak game shape” by January, according to the paper, which would be just in time for the start of Pac-12 play.

The Bruins take on Prarie View A&M on Saturday.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

North Carolina to unveil national championship banner in October

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The latest addition to the rafters of the Dean Dome will be unveiled this fall.

North Carolina will raise the banner for its 2017 national championship on Oct. 13, according to a report from Inside Carolina.

The event will coincide with the Tar Heels’ “Late Night With Roy” event that marks the public start to the season for the program and also serves, like many other top programs, as a recruiting tool.

North Carolina won its sixth NCAA national championship in April by defeating Gonzaga, 71-65, in Phoenix to avenge its last-second loss in the title game to Villanova the year prior. It was the Tar Heels’ first championship since 2009.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball highlights

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It was the most anticipated matchup of the summer.

Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball.

People were turned away at the door – and LeBron James reportedly came and went – as the gym reached capacity for SC Supreme’s 104-92 victory over the Big Ballers. That’s Williamson over Ball (LaMelo and LaVar).

The game was mostly spectacle, and you can see it’s top moments right here.

 

VIDEO: Zion Williamson’s coach is holding a sleeping baby

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LaMelo Ball vs. Zion Williamson was insane, but it wasn’t quite crazy enough to wake up the sleeping toddler that Williamson’s coach is holding in his arms:

This is peak AAU basketball.

It will never be more AAU than that.

PHOTOS: Zion Williamson, LaMelo Ball showdown was, of course, insane

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In a showcase game in the adidas Uprising event in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, LaMelo Ball — the youngest member of the Big Baller Brand — faced off with Zion Williamson, who is a force on youtube and a highlight machine.

The crowd was insane for the game:

According to a report from ESPN, there were even concerns about whether or not the game would actually be allowed to be played; the police and fire marshall considered shutting the event down.

Williamson, of course, put on a show in warmups:

At the time of this posting, there were more than 60,000 people watching a livestream of the game on BallIsLife’s facebook page:

(UPDATE: It’s now over 70,000)

Puerto Rico Tip Off bracket revealed

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The bracket of the 2017 Puerto Rico Tip off was revealed Wednesday, setting up a showdown between a 2016 Final Four participant and the 2016 Big 12 tournament champion.

South Carolina and Iowa State headline the event, which will be played Nov. 16-19, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

The Gamecocks are on the top half of the bracket, opening against Illinois State while the Cyclones are on the bottom half, squaring off against Appalachian State.

Boise State vs. UTEP is the other top-half quarterfinal while Tulsa vs. Western Michigan is the other.

The championship game of the Puerto Rico Tip Off on Sunday, Nov. 19.