When the UCLA landed the #1 ranked recruiting class this Summer it was supposed to signal the return to elite status of one of college basketball’s most storied programs.
After all it has been nearly 4 years since the Kevin Love led Bruins made their last of 3 consecutive trips to the Final Four and decades since their last National Title.
Things looked very promising for coach Ben Howland looking forward to this season, then came word that the NCAA had ruled that tandem Top 5 rated freshmen Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammed both would be declared ineligible.
While Anderson’s infractions were fairly minor and was re-instated rather quickly, Muhammed’s case was much more serious as he was found to have violated his amateur status by accepting more than $1,600 in impermissable benefits and was deemed permanently ineligible similar to the case of Enes Kanter at Kentucky a few seasons ago.
But through the appeals process, UCLA fought and got Muhammed’s case overturned but not without some stipulations. Muhammed was suspended for UCLA’s first 3 contests and ordered to repay all $1,600 of the benefits he recieved, making him immediately eligible to suit up for the Bruins on Monday night against Georgetown in the Legends Classic.
Muhammed was the #2 overall prospect behind Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel in the 2012 NCAA recruiting class. While Noel can be a game-changer on the defensive end, Muhammed is undoubtedly the most skilled offensive incoming freshman in the class.
He’s so highly touted as a scorer that he has already been compared to Kobe Bryant and could have a similar impact to that of another superstar freshman Carmelo Anthony back in 2003 when he helped lead Syracuse to a National Title. He also is a potential #1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
No doubt that Monday’s tilt with the Hoyas will now be a ratings bonanza for ESPN as the game airs at 8pm…
Shabazz Muhammed Senior Year Mixtape:
Allen Moll has been a lifelong NBA and NCAA College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously, and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. Allen has also provided content to Bleacherreport.com, Upperdeckblog.com, Cleveland.com, CSN Philly.com, Buckets Magazine, in addition to being a tenured NBA and NCAA columnist for TheHoopDoctors.com.