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.
Muhammad Ineligible for UCLA’s China Trip (UPDATED)
UCLA freshman wing Shabazz Muhammad is ineligible for the team’s upcoming trip to China while the NCAA investigates the improper benefits he received during his recruitment.
“Since the investigation won’t be totally clear, they wanted to hold him out for China,” a source with direct knowledge who requested anonymity because he is not permitted to comment on the ongoing NCAA investigation told SNY.tv.
As a result, Muhammad won’t make the trip to China running Aug. 22-Aug.29.
“He has class,” the source said. “He’s not going to miss that for China.”
The news was first reported by Tracy Pierson of Scout.com.
UCLA head coach Ben Howland did not immediately return a phonecall or text message.
The NCAA is looking into how two people — family friends and financial advisers Benjamin Lincoln and Ken Kavanagh — helped pay for Muhammad’s recruiting visits and fund his AAU team, Dream Vision. Their involvement was reported by CBSSports.com in February.
But the source said Muhammad’s family is working with the UCLA compliance department and hopes to have the situation worked out before the regular season starts.
“It’s an ongoing investigation, [the family] is still working with the compliance department,” the source said. “Because they’re not going to be finished with the investigation, they’re going to hold him out.”
UCLA will play one game in Beijing Aug. 25 against Tsinghua University
The Bruins will fly to Shanghai the following day and play against Shanghai Jiao Tong University on Aug. 27.
UCLA will take on the Shanghai Sharks, a professional Chinese team owned by Yao Ming, the evening of Aug. 28 at Yuan Shen Sports Center, before flying back to Los Angeles on Aug. 29.
Muhammad had been battling a high ankle sprain, but Howland told SNY.tv last month he was optimistic about his level of play.
“I think he can be a really outstanding player,” Howland said then. “The one thing I noticed our first practice is he’s a great offensive rebounder. I mean, he’s going to be a load and we’ve got to utilize him in a lot of different ways because he can post, he can shoot it, he can put it on the floor, he goes and gets it.”
A McDonald’s All-American with prodigious scoring skills, Muhammad in April picked UCLA over Kentucky and Duke.
He is part of a loaded freshmen class at UCLA that also includes Kyle Anderson, Tony Parker and Jordan Adams.BIRCH, BENNETT OUT FOR UNLV CANADA TRIP
UNLV will also be without Canadian freshmen forwards Khem Birch and Anthony Bennett when they depart Thursday for Canada, as reported by the Las Vegas Sun. Bennett was not cleared in time and Birch isn’t eligible until after the first semester.
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.