Controversy seems to follow Shabazz Muhammad wherever he goes.
Whether it is a Gucci backpack that his professional tennis playing sister purchased for him or the new-age controversy that allowed him to dominate younger competition, Shabazz cannot seem to shy away from the limelight. His NBA–ready body and ability to score from multiple positions on the floor make sure that Muhammad isn’t just well known for abilities to make the tabloids.
Muhammad was a highly-heralded recruit out of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas. He was the Gatorade player of the year in his senior year after averaging 25.1 points a game and 7.7 rebounds. Multiple schools requested his services but in the end, it came down to UCLA and Kentucky.
UCLA won out, and all was thought to be well until eligibility concerns arose.
Muhammad’s amateur status was in question when it was ruled that a family friend, Benjamin Franklin, was paying for his travel expenses on visits to Duke and North Carolina, giving those schools an unfair advantage in recruiting. They ruled Muhammad ineligible for the first three games before he was reinstated.
This would only be the first incident.
When Muhammad was on the court, he was an All Pac-12 performer. He and Jahii Carson were awarded co-Freshman of the Year honors after averaging 17.9 points per game and 5.2 rebounds. His uncanny one-on-one scoring ability was still out of place in college ball, which watched him shoot 44 percent during the regular season and 39 percent from the field during the postseason. His stock as a top 3 pick dropped as he entered the 2013 draft.
During the scouting camps, the Los Angeles Times reported that Muhammad was actually one year older than what was reported on his birth certificate. Muhammad’s father said it was a media guide oversight, but reports say that it was a practice that went on for years.
Muhammad still didn’t fall out of the lottery, being selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the 14th overall pick. He thanked the Timberwolves by getting kicked out of a rookie symposium when it was discovered he had unauthorized company at the event.
Muhammad was still the best one-on-one scorer of all the prospects going into the draft. Blessed with a 6-foot-6, 225-pound NBA-ready body, Muhammad is both adept in the post against smaller defenders and off the dribble against bigger players. His jump shot is streaky at best.
Shabazz can put all this behind him if he plays well this season. The Timberwolves are longing for a perimeter presence and if Muhammad can provide that, he can put all the flack behind him.