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UCLA coach says Muhammad will enter draft
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On March 3, 2013 @ 11:00 am In Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
It might be obvious that freshman phenom Shabazz Muhammad was planning to declare for the NBA draft this summer.
But following a crucial 74-69 victory over No. 11 Arizona, Bruins coach Ben Howland confirmed that would be Muhammad’s final game playing inside Pauley Pavilion.
“That was his last game in Pauley, no doubt about it,” Howland said after the game.
Um, honesty alert. Someone hasn’t been that upfront since this happened. That’s coming from a man who’s had his heart broken before, having lost Kevin Love and Jrue Holiday to the league after stellar freshman campaigns.
“This wasn’t meant to be an announcement for Shabazz,” Howland said later. “I’m just being honest. … Just keeping it real.”
It was the second time in 48 hours Howland “kept it real” having mingled with UCLA students, even playing some beer pong. (We’re told he might have only took one shot, and his shooting percentage wasn’t revealed. Sorry Bill Walton).
Back to Muhammad. This shouldn’t be a shock by any stretch of the imagination and Howland was simply being straightforward. But having coached for a long time now, Howland has to understand how the media works. (There’s going to be a story when your prized recruit has a Gucci bag and everyone else has a gym bag). He also has to understand that the timing wasn’t exactly pinpoint for the Bruins’ Pac-12 title hopes. It’s very rare for a coach to speak so definitively about the future of an underclassman during the regular season, even if that freshman is the most obvious one-and-done player of all-time.
Towards the end of the game, fans began chanting “one more year” for Muhammad.
Muhammad, a projected lottery pick, scored 18 points (right around his average in UCLA’s win. After the game, he dodged the NBA question a little better than Howland.
“It’s still a long season of basketball,” Muhammad said. “We don’t know yet. I kind of thought about it. I just thought about the big win we’re going to have and how important this win was for us against Arizona.”
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