Shabazz Muhammad: Decision Will Drastically Change College Basketball Landscape

Eric BallFeatured ColumnistApril 10, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 28: Shabazz Muhammad #15 of the West team moves against Alex Poythress #22 of the East team during the 2012 McDonald's All American Game at United Center on March 28, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Do you know the name Shabazz Muhammad yet?

The No. 1 ranked player according to has yet to make a final decision on where he’ll be attending college, but when he does the landscape of college basketball is going to shift dramatically.

The choices are down to UCLA, Kentucky and Duke, three teams that desperately need the 6’6’’, 215-pound small forward to ensure they don’t take a giant step back next season.

How good is the Las Vegas, NV native? The scoring machine has three-point range in addition to a deadly post game where he’s almost unstoppable, using his chiseled physique to impose his will on opponents. He rebound’s the ball well on both ends of the floor and has the athleticism and dedication to become an elite defender.

Just listen to what scouts told Yahoo! Sports Marc Spears about Muhammad at the Hoop Summit in Portland this week:

“Shabazz is by far the best player here,” one Western Conference scout said of the senior swingman from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High. “It’s not even close. He’s the only one who can play in the NBA tomorrow.”

Said one Eastern Conference general manager: “He’s a much better shooter than I thought.”

If UCLA lands the west coast star, coach Ben Howland is able to maneuver out of the mess and backlash of the Sports Illustrated story that surfaced towards the end of last season. The Bruins would have the star player they have been lacking the past two to three years. The Pac-12 would be relevant again.

Picking Kentucky would entail the Wildcats will be expected to repeat as national champions. He would be the next top-ranked recruit in a line that is quickly becoming rather long for Kentucky coach John Calipari. The pressure is going to be sky-high for Muhammad, but he’ll certainly keep the Wildcats in the national spotlight for the entire season a year after the team potentially could lose six players to the NBA draft.

Duke might need him more than anybody else.

With all of the early exits by North Carolina’s stars, the ACC is going to be wide open next season. Duke has a huge scoring void to fill and Muhammad would be the perfect man for the job. He would keep the Blue Devils in the top ten and a contender for a title yet again. If he decides to skip Cameron Indoor, the odds of Duke winning more than a game in next year’s tournament dip dramatically.

So to recap, Muhammad can either resurrect one of the storied programs in the sport while making a major conference relevant again, he could keep the defending national champs in the spotlight and make them the favorites to repeat, or he can give Duke fans hope next season won’t be a disappointment.

This is a monumental decision Muhammad has in front of him on Wednesday night and it’s going to set the tone for the entire 2012-13 college basketball season.