Shabazz Muhammad: UCLA Bruins' Long-Term Future Rides on One-and-Done Star

Josh MartinNBA Lead WriterApril 15, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 28:  Shabazz Muhammad #15 of the West team moves against 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

Another MVP performance in a high school All-Star game, this time at the Jordan Classic.

Not a bad way for Shabazz Muhammad to close out his prep career, before setting about the task of rescuing Ben Howland's UCLA Bruins from the abyss of college basketball.

The star swingman from Las Vegas won't be asked to do it all by himself, of course. He'll be joined by fellow teenage heartthrobs Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams and (perhaps) Tony Parker, albeit not the one who plays for the San Antonio Spurs.

Not to mention the solid supporting cast that's already in Westwood, Calif., between the rotund Joshua Smith, the Wear twins, Tyler Lamb, Norman Powell and North Carolina transfer Larry Drew Jr.

Still, the health of the Bruins basketball program will rest largely on Shabazz's shoulders, even if bringing that winning feeling back to a renovated Pauley Pavilion is a team endeavor. Muhammad's (presumed) one year at UCLA will serve as an advertisement of sorts to potential star recruits going forward.

If Howland allows Muhammad to play his game, to score and attack the basket as is his forte, then high school standouts may soon follow his lead.

Kevin Love was expected to serve that purpose during the 2007-08 season, when he averaged a double-double as a freshman on the way to being named the Pac-10 Player of the Year.

However, concerns about Howland's restriction of Love's role, combined with defections among the coaching staff, seemed to limit the big man's long-term impact on the program.

The same goes with the disappointing class of 2008, which came in as the best in the nation, but ultimately left the program in tatters.

A strong season with Muhammad could change all that. The 2012-13 season may well put Bruins basketball back on the map, save Howland's job and create a new store of recruiting momentum all in one fell swoop.

According to, the Bruins already have scholarship offers out to three five-star prospects in the class of 2013, along with several other highly-touted high schoolers in 2014 and 2015.

Think those kids would be at all swayed toward UCLA if Muhammad and Anderson, both freshmen, guided the Bruins back to the Final Four?

It certainly couldn't hurt.