Shabazz Muhammad

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_

No. 13 Iowa State suspends Jameel McKay indefinitely

Iowa State forward Georges Niang, forward Jameel McKay, forward Abdel Nader and guard Deonte Burton celebrate after center Stuart Nezlek scored late in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Coppin State, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 104-84 (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)
AP Photo/Justin Hayworth
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Already lacking depth, No. 13 Iowa State will be short a key contributor Saturday when they take on Oklahoma State in Stillwater.

Friday night it was announced that senior forward Jameel McKay has been suspended indefinitely by head coach Steve Prohm and did not make the trip with the team. McKay, who’s been dealing with knee issues recently, is averaging 12.4 points and a team-high 9.0 rebounds per game on the season.

Over the last six games he’s averaging 7.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest, shooting 60.6 percent from the field.

McKay has been asked to man the middle for a team lacking in both size and depth, with Georges Niang shifting over to the five when McKay needs a break for either rest or foul trouble reasons. Without McKay even more responsibility falls upon the shoulders of Niang, Abdel Nader and Deonte Burton in the front court.

The Cyclones are looking to end a two-game losing streak, and even with Oklahoma State’s struggles accomplishing that gets tougher with McKay out of the lineup.

News of McKay’s suspension was first reported by the Ames Tribune.

UNLV dismisses guard Daquan Cook from team

Illinois v UNLV
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LAS VEGAS (AP) UNLV junior guard Daquan Cook has been dismissed from the team.

Interim coach Todd Simon made the announcement on Friday, though no reason was given.

Cook was suspended for 13 games by previous coach Dave Rice in November after being arrested and charged with DUI.

Cook appeared in two games this season after being reinstated, scoring three points in four minutes. He missed the 2014-15 season after tearing his right ACL and played 28 games as a sophomore.