It is now official: Shabazz Muhammad, one of the nation’s top two recruits, will attend UCLA.
“I chose to be a Bruins,” Muhammad said on ESPN U’s broad cast. “I will be a Bruin next year. I just think its a challenge, knowing how bad they were these last two years. It’s a challenge to get them back up to the top, knowing that their the leaders in championships with 11.”
Bringing in Muhammad is huge for UCLA head coach Ben Howland. He now has two instant impact players in Muhammad and 6-foot-8 point forward Kyle Anderson, himself a top five recruit nationally, in addition to top 75 recruit Jordan Adams. We all have talked about the recruiting prowess of Kentucky and John Calipari, but if Howland is able to add Tony Parker, a 6-foot-9 behemoth from Georgia, that is a jewel of a recruiting class.
UCLA, all of a sudden, is relevant nationally again. There are still some question marks — Can Joshua Smith get into shape? Can the Wear twins ever live up to their McDonald’s all-american hype? — but on paper, the Bruins look like they will end up being the favorite to win the Pac-12.
“Hopefully we can sell out Pauley,” Muhammad said.
Perhaps the biggest issue that UCLA will have is at the point guard spot. Kyle Anderson may be 6-foot-8, but he is a playmaker and a distributor, a point forward if you will, but he is not going to be able to defend the point guard spot. Does that mean that Howland will use Larry Drew, who becomes eligible at UCLA next season? Will he play zone, with Muhammad and Adams or Tyler Lamb at the top? If he gets Parker, will he be able to share the floor with Smith?
There are some lingering eligibility questions with Muhammad, however. A CBSSports.com report from late February laid out the NCAA’s interest in the relationship between Muhammad’s family and a pair of financial advisors, and you don’t have to look hard to find the insinuations of Adidas’ involvement with this recruiting process. For those that don’t know, Muhammad played for an AAU team sponsored by Adidas and UCLA is an Adidas school. Muhammad’s sister is also a tennis player that is sponsored by Adidas.
The question of the summer in Westwood will be how many — if any — games Muhammad will be forced to miss?