UCLA star Shabazz Muhammad, one of the most intriguing players in college basketball, has officially declared his intentions to enter the 2013 NBA draft.
The Bruins made the news official with a statement on their official website, where Muhammad shared his thoughts on his decision to leave for the pros.
I am so thankful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play at UCLA and will always be proud to be a Bruin. From a young age, I have dreamed of playing in the NBA, and I believe that this is the right time for me to move to the next level.
I have had an unbelievable experience at UCLA and am eternally grateful to my teammates, my coaches and the program's support staff for helping me become a better person and basketball player during my time in Westwood. It has been an honor and a privilege to play for coach Ben Howland.
It’s no surprise that Muhammad is electing to turn pro after a lone freshman season at UCLA, as the young man seemed destined to make this leap before arriving on campus.
Muhammad has had a highly publicized run-in with the NCAA, the ruling organization that initially declared him ineligible for the 2012-13 campaign.
Fortunately for Muhammad and the Bruins, an edict came down that reversed the original decision after he sat out for three games.
However, his presence didn’t make the impact that many felt it would. The 6'6'', 225-pound swingman only led the team to a 25-10 record and a disappointing round-of-64 loss in the 2013 NCAA tournament.
With 17.9 points and 5.2 boards per game, though, Muhammad has proven that he is a capable scorer and decent rebounder for his size. That said, there are two red flags that must be pointed out when assessing this young man’s draft stock.
The first is his lack of production outside of scoring and on the boards, as he averaged just 0.8 assists and 0.7 steals per game. Those statistics aren’t a good sign for his potential to contribute in the NBA as much more than a scorer.
The other major issue is the recent scandal involving the young star’s true age. The Los Angeles Times found that the swingman is actually 20 years old, not 19 as had been previously reported.
To many scouts and analysts, including ESPN’s Kevin Pelton, this change completely alters his potential as a pro player and drastically reduces his ceiling.
It will be interesting to see where he lands on draft day, but Muhammad will undoubtedly find a home in the lottery as a dynamic scorer with a good motor and high basketball IQ.