Shabazz Muhammad: UCLA Not a Sure Success Even with Top Recruiting Class

Mick AkersAnalyst IApril 12, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 28:  Shabazz Muhammad #15 of the West team collides with Kyle Anderson #5 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

Although it is a huge get for the UCLA Bruins basketball program to land Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson and the rest of their No. 3 ranked recruiting class, the signing of highly-touted recruits won't do anything if coach Ben Howland can't gain control over the team.

The now-infamous Sports Illustrated article that documented a locker room lost and a team that defied its coach on a regular basis demonstrated that all the talent in the world is useless with a coach who can't and won't keep control of things.

UCLA has had its fair share of top talent over the past several years, as they have had top-15 recruiting classes in four of the past five seasons prior to the 2012 class, with many players going on to the NBA, but the talent has not been translated into success.

The Bruins have missed the NCAA tournament twice—and the NIT for that matter—in the past three seasons, making it to the Round of 32 in the 2010-11 season, despite top-notch talent each of those seasons.

The Bruins' combined record of the past three seasons is a dismal 56-43. Even though the talent was there, the leadership was not.

Transfers out of UCLA have become a common thing, as many ex-Bruins have gone on to shine at their new schools over the past few seasons.

This year could be and should be different, as UCLA brought back Howland, even though no one would have been surprised to see him go after yet another unsuccessful outing.

Howland will have to assert that he is in charge from the get-go and not let anything slide, because if he continues to be anywhere near the coach the SI report made him out to be, the team will still be in trouble.

The tough act of getting a team of high school studs who are used to being the center of attention to gel and play as a team will be the first thing that Howland will have to tackle after asserting his control of the team.

He will have to do this while Muhammad serves whatever suspension he is given for violating NCAA rules.

So for everyone who is high on the latest recruiting jackpot UCLA has raked in, just remember the past before you get your hopes sky high on the future.