Shabazz Muhammad

Ben Howland: Shabazz Muhammad headed to the NBA draft after season


Following his team’s 74-69 win over No. 11 Arizona Sunday at Pauley Pavilion, UCLA coach Ben Howland went ahead and confirmed what everyone had suspected in regards to the future of star freshman Shabazz Muhammad.

“That was his last game in Pauley Pavilion, no doubt about it. I know that. He knows that. We all know that,” Howland said at a press conference after UCLA’s win, implying that Muhammad would be leaving after his freshman season to enter the NBA draft.

“This wasn’t meant to be an announcement for Shabazz, I’m just being honest. Just keeping it real,” he continued. “I’m very much a realist now. I knew going into this deal that this was a one-year deal, and it should be. He’s a lottery pick. He’s a top-five pick. When you have that going for you, it is absolutely the right thing.”

Muhammad, who scored 18 points in the win, was less forward about a formal announcement.

“It’s still a long season of basketball, I kind of thought about it,” Muhammad said. “I’m really happy I came here and represented UCLA. It was definitely the right decision. The fans here are great, I have enjoyed myself this whole year, getting experience at the college level.”

At this point, it would likely be unwise for Muhammad not to go to the draft, as he is expected to be selected in the Top 5 of the lottery. Draft Express currently has him slotted to go No. 3 overall to the Washington Wizards.

But with this draft and the lack of a definitive No. 1 overall pick, the draft order will ultimately determine who goes where in the Top 10. Instead of drafting entirely on overall quality, teams have more room to draft one need. That means Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, Alex Len, Cody Zeller, Muhammad, and others could all shift spots at the top of the board.

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

Knee injury temporarily sidelines Memphis assistant

Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets
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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.

Duke figuring out approach for this season

Duke University head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski speaks with the media about the Blue Devils' 2013-14 basketball season, Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Durham, N.C. (Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
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Duke is coming off of a national championship but the roster will look almost completely different for the 2015-16 season. That means last season’s approach to things on the offensive and defensive end will have to change and head coach Mike Krzyzewski mentioned to reporters on Friday how the Blue Devils are still figuring some things out.

“We’re putting in a different offensive system, to personalize it for these guys,” Krzyzewski said to reporters. “And a different defensive system so that we can max out on the talents that they have.

“We’re really proud of our team. I think we’re going to be a really good team.”

Without Jahlil Okafor in the middle, Duke’s offense could shift to a mostly perimeter-oriented team, as the wing and guard depth is superior for this year’s group.  Coach K and his staff making adjustments to schemes to fit personnel is a nice move from the Hall of Famer, as he’s done a better job in recent years of making adjustments like this after his stint with USA Basketball.

As the program moves on from Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Quinn Cook, it’ll be intriguing to see who emerges as a potential go-to offensive player early in the season and how Duke’s offense potentially evolves as the season wears on.