What Impact Does Shabazz Muhammad's Eligibility Have on UCLA Bruins' Season?

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What Impact Does Shabazz Muhammad's Eligibility Have on UCLA Bruins' Season?
latimes.com

Shabazz Muhammad was declared ineligible for an undetermined amount of time on Friday, according to Baxter Holmes of the LA Times.

The reason the 6'6" freshman phenom was not able to play in UCLA's season opening game against Indiana State was a violation of the NCAA's amateurism rules relating to some unofficial campus visits while he was still in high school.

UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero issued this statement regarding the ruling by the NCAA:

The NCAA has finally determined that a violation of the NCAA amateurism rules has occurred involving UCLA freshman guard Shabazz Muhammad and his family. As a result, he is ineligible for competition at this time. We are extremely disappointed that the NCAA has made this determination.

The University and our compliance staff have fully cooperated with the NCAA throughout this entire period, and we believe the decision is incorrect and unjust to Shabazz. UCLA will expeditiously pursue its options to challenge this determination. When a final resolution has been reached by the NCAA, we will swiftly communicate the news to the entire Bruin family.

The question remains: "What impact does Muhammad's eligibility have on the Bruins' season?"

How many more '12-13 games will Shabazz miss?

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The immediate impact is the uncertainty that surrounds the team itself. UCLA head coach Ben Howland will have to continue answering questions about the matter, even if he doesn't have any new information.

Howland will also have to initially look for the right lineup and substitute combinations without UCLA's star player. If or when Muhammad is declared eligible, that process will have to be restarted and readdressed.

The Bruins looked solid in their opener against Indiana State. Fellow freshman Jordan Adams scored 21 points in 22 minutes off the bench. As long as Muhammad remains on the sidelines, Adams may be UCLA's go-to perimeter scorer.

Without Muhammad on the court, this Bruins team will still be a Top 25 team that should easily win 20+ games and compete for the Pac-12 title.

With Muhammad in the lineup, UCLA could be one of the best teams in the West, and might make a deep run come March Madness.

Overall, the NCAA could do everyone involved with this case a big favor by reaching a final decision and not dragging this out.

My guess is that this story will unfortunately linger for longer than it should, and will steal focus from what actually is taking place on the court as the '12-13 college basketball season opens.

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