UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad declares for NBA draft
UCLA freshman guard Shabazz Muhammad declared for the NBA draft on Tuesday.
“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 prepared 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.”
SI.com’s Chris Mannix has Muhammad ranked No. 8 on his latest Big Board.
The Bruins’ opening-round loss to Minnesota capped a disappointing season for Muhammad, who proved he could score (17.9 points) but not much else. Muhammad is going to need a lot of work: Much of his scoring comes when he goes left, his jump shot is inconsistent and he does not impact the game in any other areas. A team will jump on him early because of his scoring potential, but he will need a strong coaching staff to mold the rest of his game.
Muhammad, 20, averaged 17.9 points and 5.2 rebounds for the Bruins, who were upset by Minnesota in their first game of the NCAA tournament. He shot 44.3 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from deep for the season, earning All Pac-12 First Team honors.
His freshman season saw two off-the-court controversies that generated national headlines. In November, Muhammad was declared ineligible by the NCAA for accepting travel and lodging during three unofficial visits to schools. After sitting out three games, Muhammad was cleared to play for the Bruins after the boyfriend of an NCAA attorney was overheard on an airplane bragging that his girlfriend would not allow Muhammad to play this season. The attorney was later fired. Then, in March, the Los Angeles Times revealed that Muhammad, believed to be 19 years old this season, was actually a year older.
A Las Vegas native, Muhammad is listed at 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds. He ranks No. 9 on DraftExpress.com’s top 100 and No. 9 on Chad Ford’s top 100 at ESPN Insider after being widely regarded as one of the top two high schools prospect in the class of 2012.