UCLA coach Ben Howland is hopeful that superstar freshman Shabazz Muhammad will be cleared by the NCAA.
“I’m very optimistic about Shabazz,” Howland told reporters Thursday at Pac-12 media day in San Francisco. “I can’t tell you how long or when, I don’t know that. But again, these are great kids and I’m very confident that things are going to work out and very optimistic.”
The 6-foot-6 Muhammad is being investigated by the NCAA for allegedly receiving improper benefits from boosters of his AAU program and for improper acceptance of airline flights for some of his recruiting visits.
Muhammad had been practicing with the Bruins until hurting his right shoulder last week. His availability for their season opener on Nov. 9 against Indiana State is unknown.
On Wednesday, his roommate and teammate, UCLA guard Kyle Anderson, the former McDonald’s All-American out of St. Anthony, was cleared by the NCAA. Anderson was being investigated for alleged recruiting violations
“Haha hopefully I’m next so we can get this season going !!!!” Muhammad tweeted then.
Muhammad and the No. 13 Bruins are scheduled to play in the Legends Classic at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Nov. 19-20.
UCLA will open play on Nov. 19 against Georgetown and will play either Indiana or Georgia on Nov. 20. Led by Preseason All-America forward Cody Zeller, the Hoosiers are ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Polls.
(The AP contributed reporting)
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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