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Searching for Shabazz
By: Alex Raskin
Last Updated: 8/5/11 3:25 PM ET
Shabazz Muhammad is supposedly a big talent. We all read stories about the Las Vegas native, but who really knows how good he is until he plays an actual NCAA game?
Sure, the measurables are nice. He's 6-6, 215 pounds and ESPN has him ranked as the third-best prospect in the Class of 2012. Even more intriguing, Muhammad is a lefty who can get to the hoop and has a reliable jumper within 15 feet. He's not a 3-point shooter yet and it's rare when any 17-year-old is actually a good defender, but those are things that can certainly change if he lands with the right program.
And what is the "right program" for Muhammad?
Dave Telep of ESPN.com writes that we won't know that answer anytime soon. So far the list includes UCLA, Duke, Kentucky, UNLV, Memphis, Texas A&M and Kansas—which Telep says is a "slight newbie" for Muhammad.
However Telep doesn't hesitate to say that UCLA, Duke and UNLV are at the top of his list.
"I'll definitely take five visits," Muhammad told Telep, "but I don't know about signing in the early period. If I'm unsure between two schools, I'd probably wait it out and see what school really wants me and which one to go to. If I really knew what college I was going to, I could make the decision right now."
Perhaps Ben Howland and UCLA would be the best for Muhammad, as that choice would probably give him the best defensive fundamentals heading into the NBA. Duke obviously is a top program, but even Mike Krzyzewski doesn't have a laundry list of defensive stoppers like Howland does: Arron Afflalo, Russell Westbrook, Luc Mbah a Moute and Jrue Holiday.
Of course, that's not always what players base these decisions on. Muhammad is from the area, so UNLV will remain a serious possibility, even if it can't offer the same level of competition that UCLA and Duke can.