We’ve known this to be true since the season ended, but UCLA made it official on Tuesday, as they sent out a press release confirming that star freshman Shabazz Muhammad would be leaving school and entering the NBA Draft.
“I am so thankful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play at UCLA and will always be proud to be a Bruin,” Muhammad said in a statement. “From a young age, I have dreamed of playing in the NBA, and I believe that this is the right time for me to move to the next level.
“I have had an unbelievable experience at UCLA and am eternally grateful to my teammates, my coaches and the program’s support staff for helping me become a better person and basketball player during my time in Westwood. It has been an honor and a privilege to play for coach Ben Howland.”
(CLICK HERE to follow along with who is turning pro and who is returning to school.)
Muhammad is a bit of a polarizing prospect. He’s been considered one of the best players in his class for a long time, but it turns out that he’s actually a year older than many believed he was. That’s concerning because Muhammad’s spent much of his career dominating the amateur levels thanks to superior strength and athleticism. The fact that he did so a year older than he said he was is a concern.
He’s still going to be a lottery pick, but it will be interesting to see where he is drafted and how good of a pro he ends up being.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Sunday evening Creighton got on the board in the Class of 2016, as 6-foor-4 combo guard Davion Mintz made his pledge to Greg McDermott’s program. Mintz made the decision on the tail end of his official visit to Creighton, picking the Bluejays over Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Tulsa and Wichita State.
News of Mintz’s commitment was first reported by Rick Lewis of the Phenom Hoop Report, with Mintz confirming the news via Twitter shortly thereafter.
Creighton has just two seniors on its current roster in guard Jams Milliken and forward Geoffrey Groselle, but that doesn’t mean they lack for experience. Among the guards on the roster who will be around when Mintz arrives on campus are redshirt juniors Maurice Watson Jr., Malik Albert, and Isaiah Zierden, and Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster will be eligible in 2016-17.
Mintz, who attends North Mecklenberg HS just outside of Charlotte, can play either on or off the basketball. Creighton’s veteran guards should help Mintz with his transition to the college game when he arrives in Omaha in 2016. Mintz played for the Charlotte Nets grassroots program this summer.
Three days after landing one power forward in Sagaba Konate, West Virginia received a verbal commitment from another big man Sunday evening.
6-foot-11 Mountain Mission School (Gurndy, Virginia) power forward Maciej Bender became the Mountaineers’ fourth commitment in the Class of 2016 on Sunday, with the Mountain Mission program announcing the news via Twitter. Bender is a native of Poland, and in addition to Konate he joins guards Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler in West Virginia’s 2016 recruiting class.
West Virginia will lose two forwards in TyQuane Goard and Jonathan Holton at the end of the 2015-16 season, and the additions of Konate and Bender will help the Mountaineers account for those departures from a depth standpoint. Bender can score around the basket, but he’s also capable of facing up and scoring in pick-and-pop situations out beyond the three-point line.
Bender officially visited West Virginia last weekend, and he was a player the WVU coaching staff wanted to get in the fold. Other programs to offer Bender included Arizona State (teammate Jethro Tshisumpa is an ASU commit), Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Providence. Bender played his grassroots basketball for the West Virginia Wildcats program this summer.