Shabazz Muhammad: Why Elite Prospect Will Bring Glory Back to UCLA and Pac-12

Andre KhatchaturianCorrespondent IIIApril 11, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 28:  MVP Shabazz Muhammad #15 of the West team walks up the court 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

If Shabazz Muhammad decides to attend UCLA, we can all welcome back the Bruins to the NCAA relevancy, along with the Pac-12.

It's amazing how dismal the once-glorious conference was this season. It was so atrocious that the regular season champion, Washington, didn't even make the tournament despite dominating the Pac-12.

What's most surprising is how quickly UCLA has sunk in the last few years. They have failed to make the March Madness tournament in two of the last three seasons. This is just a few years after they made three consecutive Final Four appearances from 2006 through 2008.

One man can immediately reverse the fortunes of the UCLA Bruins, and that is Shabazz Muhammad. He'll also be able to save Ben Howland's job, who will return for another year but could likely get canned if the Bruins fail to make the tournament again.

The 6'6" shooting guard is going to light up the scoreboard and quickly become a fan favorite in Southern California. He's also a ferocious attacker who will get to the rim and immediately become a Pac-12 nightmare.

With Muhammad, the Bruins will not have any trouble dominating the Pac-12, which is still weak. One star player will be enough for UCLA to turn into a powerhouse and make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. 

It'll be hard to see anybody in that meager conference contain Muhammad, who would probably be drafted by an NBA team this summer if it wasn't for the NBA's age-limit rule. 

It's true that Muhammad will most likely go straight to the NBA after one year, but all UCLA needs is one strong season and they become an attractive destination for high school recruits. A strong team on the court makes recruits want to play for a winner. Muhammad can help the Bruins become winners, especially in the Pac-12, thus turning them once again into a school that kids want to play for.

Once recruiting improves at UCLA, they'll be able to pull off a string of successful seasons, and all will be well in Westwood.

In the long run, UCLA's success is highly correlated to the direction of the Pac-12 because of the fact that they are the most recognizable team in the conference. 

If they're doing well, it means more money and exposure for the conference. This leads to a larger budget for recruiting, and it increases the talent pool of the conference. 

Can one player do all of that for a program and conference?

It may be a bit of a stretch, but it'll be a start. There's no doubt that UCLA won't be sitting out of the tournament next season with Muhammad on their squad. He's an NBA guy after all. 

Depending on how far they go in the tournament with Shabazz, it will dictate the magnitude of the aforementioned chain reaction of events. If they win the national title next season, then UCLA and the Pac-12 will be restored in a matter of a couple years because of all the attention the school will get.

It's definitely something that Ben Howland and the Bruins athletic department is hoping for.

After all, they don't want their renowned basketball program to become like their lackluster football program.