Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Odds are, Shabazz Muhammad will ultimately wind up at Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, Texas, UCLA or some other basketball blueblood.
But don’t count out UNLV.
Vegas is the hometown school for the 6-foot-6 Bishop Gorman star who dropped 39 points Friday to help his Dream Vision 17s overcome a 12-point first-half deficit and beat the Atlanta Celtics, 87-80, in the adidas 64.
“UNLV is doing a really good job of recruiting me, and even the fans are recruiting me,” Muhammad told the hometown Las Vegas Sun. “That’s what it’s all about: You want to have fun with your recruitment. Everybody’s here. My family’s here. I’ve lived here 12 years. My coach’s brother is the head coach. I really like the program, so they’re going to continue to be in my recruitment.”
His father, Ron Holmes, added: “It would be tough (to say no to UNLV) because of our relationship with Dave Rice. They’re doing a really good job. He’s said some good things, he lets us know the truth about Shabazz and what he plans for Shabazz. We really like him. I like what he’s done so far in coaching, and I think he can duplicate that (success) at UNLV.”
Rice is the older brother of Bishop Gorman coach Grant Rice, and the UNLV coach has followed Muhammad closely since landing the job. He attended Muhammad’s first game Friday, along with assistant Stacy Augmon and former UNLV legend Larry Johnson.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, Kentucky coach John Calipari and Memphis coach Josh Pastner were also on hand.
In May, Dave Rice landed USC transfer Bryce Jones, a 6-5 shooting guard and close family friend of Muhammad’s. Jones and Muhammad drove to Los Angeles this week to work out together.
“I’ll be in touch with him,” Jones said at the time of Muhammad. “I’ll try to get him to come join me.”
UNLV fans are also trying.
They showed up en masse on Friday to support Muhammad and let them know they want him to stay home.
“We know (recruits) notice, just from the input we hear,” Rebel fan Dennis Del Vecchiotold the Sun. “They notice the fans here and I think it means a lot to them, whether or not they (choose to attend UNLV).”
“Shabazz Muhammad is coming to UNLV, put it down,” Rebel fan Curtis Swarts told the paper. “If we got Shabazz, we’d be looking at deep runs in the NCAA Tournament. He would bring the excitement back. He would also help with future recruits. People will follow him wherever he goes and we would get better players.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.