UCLA Basketball: Bruins Bumming If Shabazz Muhammad Is Declared Ineligible
B/R's Adam Wells cited an LA Times report that says that UCLA's fab frosh Shabazz Muhammad will "not be with the team when it travels to China for an exhibition because of an NCAA investigation" which is reportedly looking into "financial dealings between Muhammad’s family and friends."
The LA Times report also says:
The NCAA is looking into whether Muhammad received improper benefits, to pay for unofficial trips to schools, from Benjamin Lincoln, CBSSports.com reported in February. Lincoln’s brother, Geoff Lincoln, is an assistant at Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High School, where Muhammad played.
The NCAA is also investigating financial help from Ken Kavanagh, a New York financial planner who helped fund Muhammad’s summer team, the Las Vegas-based Dream Vision Foundation. Kavanagh has said he is a longtime friend of the family."
If Muhammad is declared ineligible, what will be the impact on the UCLA Bruins and their 2012-13 season?
In a single word, the impact would be "HUGE."
For starters, without the 6'6" wing on the court, the Bruins would be without their (most likely) top scorer. Muhammad averaged more than 30 points and 10 rebounds for Las Vegas' Bishop Gorman H.S.
He is lethal in the open court and has no problems whatsoever getting his shots in a half-court set. He can stick long or mid-range jumpers or he can take it all the way to the rack and throw it down. He is the kind of player that attracts so much attention from opponents that it causes significant breakdowns for the rest of his teammates to exploit.
Muhammad's physicality and strength creates matchup problems for the wings that must guard him.
While Bruins head coach Ben Howland brought in a large and talented 2012 recruiting class, none of the others presents nearly the offensive disruption that Muhammad does.
In terms of the impact on the overall team, it is possible that this could be an event that challenges the undeveloped team-connection/chemistry. This Bruins squad was already needing to bond quickly, and an investigation like this is, at least, a distraction. If this drags out or even ends up with Muhammad being declared ineligible, the result could be crippling.
UCLA could easily go from being a team that is in the early Final Four discussions to a team that would still be good enough to make the NCAA tournament but might not have the horsepower to make a deep run.
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