The 2012 UCLA basketball season is one of those national championship-or-bust type of seasons. Bruins fans have grown increasingly frustrated with Ben Howland, and for good reason: After taking the team to three straight Final Fours from 2006 to 2008, the squad has flamed out incredibly in the four years since.
Essentially, Howland saved his job with the commitment of Shabazz Muhammad, who was either the No. 1 or No. 2 ranked commit in the nation, depending on who you ask.
So it makes sense that Shabazz Muhammad was a big deal for college coaches. And while there’s always a top-ranked recruit in every class, Shabazz seems different since he fits the prototypical “Howland” player in that he’s gritty and works like a friggin’ horse.
Shabazz was so coveted, though, that he was ranked as the second most coveted college hoops player right now, behind Indiana big man Cody Zeller. From CBSSports (h/t: Jacob Ruffman of the Daily Bruin):
The question: If you could add any one player to your team for next season, who would it be?
- Indiana sophomore Cody Zeller: 35 percent
- UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad: 12 percent
- Ohio State junior Aaron Craft: 9 percent
- Creighton junior Doug McDermott: 9 percent
- Murray State senior Isaiah Canaan: 7 percent
- Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel: 7 percent
- Michigan sophomore Trey Burke: 5 percent
On Muhammad: ”Is Shabazz going to miss a lot of games because of NCAA issues? If not, I’d take him. He’ll be able to score at a high-level from day one.”
Interesting that the note on Muhammad has to do with NCAA issues. All things considered, it was probably UK coach John Calipari — that snake-y fellow whom we all know and love — who said it, but whatever.
Still, we realize that Zeller is quite a bit ahead of Shabazz, but it’s fair to note that Shabazz will certainly be in college for just one year since he’ll be a surefire lottery pick in 2012, and he also won’t be as polished as Zeller will be. Plus, big men in college — or, hell, at any level — are hard to come by anyway.
So it’s all excusable, and second most coveted player in college basketball is more than just respectable.
We’re hoping ‘Bazz lives up to his expectations, otherwise, it’s Josh Smith all over again.