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.
JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Kyle Anderson Sr. says he believes Shabazz Muhammad will commit to UCLA next month and join his son in a powerhouse recruiting class for Bruins coach Ben Howland.
“I think he’s going to UCLA because that’s where his parents are from and I assume they would want to get back to L.A.,” Anderson Sr. told SNY.tv during an exclusive interview Monday at St. Anthony’s practice facility, where Kyle Anderson Jr. and the unbeaten Friars (31-0) went through their final preparations before Tuesday’s New Jersey Tournament of Champions final.
“That’s just my opinion,” added Anderson Sr., a longtime coach with the Playaz Basketball Club AAU team. “That’s not based on any conversations or any inside information.”
As reported exclusively by SNY.tv Sunday, the 6-foot-6 Muhammad will take his final official visit to UCLA in early April and then make a decision shortly thereafter.
“That’s going to be our last official visit,” Ron Holmes, Muhammad’s father, said of the UCLA visit. “Then I think he’s going to decide on the 9th or the 10th, something like that. He’ll do something at [Bishop Gorman] high school [to announce].”
After initially planning the visit for the weekend of April 6, Holmes said he only realized Monday that that conflicts with the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore., where Muhammad will compete along with Anderson and Tony Parker, another UCLA target.
“[We’ve] got to figure out a new date for the visit,” Holmes texted SNY.tv Monday evening.
Whenever the visit comes off, Kyle Anderson Jr. believes it could end well for UCLA.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m excited,” Anderson told SNY.tv. “I think once they get to the campus and see what’s going on, I think they’re going to finally make their decision and hopefully it’s to UCLA.”
Anderson took his final visit to Florida before picking the Bruins over the Gators, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Georgetown, but believes it’s good news that Muhammad will take his final trip to UCLA.
Muhammad is also considering Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, Arizona and UNLV.
“I think it’s a good thing for UCLA to be his final visit,” Anderson said.
Naismith Hall of Fame St. Anthony coach Bob Hurley has called Anderson the “modern-day Magic Johnson.”
If Anderson were to pair with Muhammad, the top uncommitted wing in the Class of 2012, the St. Anthony star believes UCLA could get to a Final Four.
“We could be Final Four, maybe even a national championship team good,” Anderson said. “With or without him, I think there’s a lot of talent at UCLA, but mainly with him we could do some real good things.”
A recruiting class that includes Muhammad could be exactly what the doctor ordered for the embattled Howland, who was the subject of a damning Sports Illustrated story and needed a vote of confidence from UCLA AD Dan Guerrero to ensure his return for next year.
But look at the class of winners Howland could bring in.
Muhammad scored 36 points in the Nevada Class 4A state final to give Bishop Gorman its third state title in four season.
Jordan Adams, a UCLA signee from Oak Hill Academy, went 44-0 this season and his team is ranked No. 1 by USA Today and ESPN.
Parker, who is also mulling Kansas, Duke, Ohio State, Memphis and Georgia, won his fourth straight Class AAAA state title with Lithonia (Ga.) Miller Grove.
And Anderson will take a 64-game winning streak into Tuesday’s New Jersey Tournament of Champions final against Plainfield at the Izod Center. He is 98-1 in his last three seasons, including one at Paterson Catholic.
“He’s the most complete player I’ve ever coached,” Hurley, who has coached his sons, Bobby and Danny, Terry Dehere, Jerry Walker, Tyshawn Taylor, Mike Rosario and Tray Woodall, among others, told SNY.tv.
Asked if Anderson was better than Bobby Hurley Jr., who won the team’s first Tournament of Champions in 1989 and then won back-to-back NCAA titles at Duke, Hurley said: “He can do more. You pay in inches in basketball and at this size, he’s had the same impact and perhaps more because he’s so driven to win.
“All the really good ones that have been here were winners. Bobby played on four straight state championships, three straight Final Fours, two championships in college.
“[Anderson] is about winning,” Hurley added. “He’s lost one game since the beginning of his sophomore year of high school.”
If Anderson and the Friars beat Plainfield Tuesday night, is he the greatest Friar ever?
“He’s pretty close to it now,” Hurley Sr. said. “He’s got some really good players around him, but this isn’t one of those teams where you’re just looking at the team and there’s like a player at every position that’s a good player.”
Anderson left Paterson Catholic in June 2010 after the school closed and is now one game from completing his St. Anthony career unbeaten and finishing with a jaw-dropping 65-0 record in two seasons.
“It’s just a great thing to be a part of with my team,” Anderson said. “A couple of teammates, we were talking about it. We’ve been pretty happy about it. [Sixty-four] and 0, I think that’s the school record so it’s good.”
Yeah, it’s good all right.
And after wrapping up his high school career Tuesday night, Anderson will bring his talents to UCLA where he hopes to be joined by Shabazz Muhammad, maybe the best wing player to come along in a while.
Ask Kyle’s father, and he’ll tell you he thinks it’s already been decided.
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.