Back in February the NCAA lit up its flares like a disabled motorist and warned anyone close to steer clear from what was behind it. It was Shabazz Muhammad, the overwhelming top senior in the country last year who would go on to choose UCLA as his destination. The relationships of the men who paid for his college unofficial visits and his traveling team were both in question. The former star from Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High hasn’t left those inquiries in the desert to the NCAA’s liking, it appears.
Muhammad is being held back in Westwood instead of traveling to China on the Bruins’ exhibition tour, the Los Angeles Times reported last night, because of the same concerns. The NCAA is notoriously slow-footed in dealing with eligibility issues (unless you are Cam Newton and it is December 2010), and now coach Ben Howland has to ask what his touted freshman class — ranked No. 1 by ESPN, No. 3 by Sports Illustrated and No. 10 by CBS’ respective college basketball writers) will look like once the season begins Nov. 9 against Indiana State. The class also includes Kyle Anderson, who like Muhammad, is a top wing.
The unresolved issues are:
— Is Geoff Lincoln, the brother of an Gorman High assistant coach, really a family friend since 2007? He’s a financial planner in North Carolina who Muhammad’s father, Ron Holmes, says became close to the family when the prep phenom was in seventh grade.
— And is Kevin Kavanagh, a New York financial planner, also able to claim he’s a family friend? Kavanagh financed the Dream Vision Foundation team. Kavanagh said in February to CBS he played with Holmes back in the San Diego area long before Muhammad was born.
The NCAA, reported as being skeptical then about the involvement, still is. The question is, how confident should UCLA be they’ll get Muhammad’s concerns satisfied with the NCAA by the beginning of the season? Sure, Pac-12 games won’t begin until Jan. 3, but a Nov. 19 matchup against Georgetown at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, with either Georgia or Indiana the next night, and neutral-site games against San Diego State (December 1) and Texas (December 8 ) will sneak up very soon. The past two seasons, UCLA has fallen apart without a cohesive roster — getting Muhammad for every game would be a very large step toward a fast start.
What do you think?
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