As if there weren’t enough drama in the world of L.A. basketball with the soap opera that is the Los Angeles Lakers head coaching situation now the collegiate hardwood scene in Tinsel Town has been injected with its share of theater.
On Friday the NCAA ruled that UCLA Bruins freshman swingman Shabazz Muhammad is ineligible for competition following their investigation into the Las Vegas, NV star player. Muhammad was ranked the number two prospect entering the NCAA this season by ESPNU and was expected to give Ben Howland‘s team a huge boost into the forefront of the college hoops world this season.
The NCAA released the following statement on Friday night, “Muhammad is not eligible to compete in (Friday’s) game due to violations of NCAA amateurism rules”.
The 13th ranked Bruins went on to win their season opener Friday over Indiana State easily, 86-59 despite Muhammad’s absence and following the game coach Howland said the NCAA’s ruling was “very disappointing”. Howland also said “I feel terrible for Shabazz because he is a great kid and has had a phenomenal attitude in dealing with this review by the NCAA. We were very optimistic that he was going to be cleared today, so we are very disappointed for him. We’re hopeful that it’s something that is going to be worked out in the near future. When he is able to play, he’s going to add a big boost for us. He’s a guy who can really score, really shoot, and he’s a great rebounder.”
Prior to the game guitarist Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers donned a “Free Shabaz Muhammad” tee-shirt as he performed a rock rendition of the national anthem.
There is no word on when or if Muhammad will be able to suit up and compete for the Bruins at all this season.