UCLA Basketball: Was Shabazz Muhammad Worth the Trouble?

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UCLA Basketball: Was Shabazz Muhammad Worth the Trouble?
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

If Friday night's loss to Minnesota in the opening round of the NCAA tournament was indeed the final game of Shabazz Muhammad's tumultuous college career, then it started about ingloriously as it ended.

Rated as the top high school player in America by Rivals.com, Muhammad missed the season's first three games due to an ongoing NCAA investigation.

He played well upon return, scoring 17.9 points per game (second only to Arizona State's Jahii Carson among freshmen) and leading the Bruins to a Pac-12 regular-season title.

Still, it seemed UCLA never quite approached serious national-contention status, plagued as it was by an inconsistent defense and an offense that looked thoroughly average during Pac-12 play.

After earning a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament, UCLA was swept aside by Minnesota in the round of 64, 83-63. Muhammad's final shot attempt was a meaningless, uncontested layup with seven seconds left. He missed it.

He also led the Bruins with 20 points, the 14th time he tallied 20 or more in his first 32 collegiate games.

So, which Muhammad did you see?

The athletic savant who bulled through Minnesota defenders for 39 minutes en route to 10 free-throw attempts? Or the solipsistic leach who shot 6-of-18 in a disheartening blowout loss?

We'll address both portraits of Muhammad in the slides ahead, as we try to determine whether his year at Pauley was a boon to the UCLA program or a detriment.

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