New day, new wrinkle in the Shabazz Muhammad saga. While the NCAA has yet to formally announce anything regarding his eligibility, more are speaking their mind on his situation. Arizona senior forward Solomon Hill stepped up with advice that seem to support Muhammad and future highly-ranked recruits skipping college altogether.
In regards to Muhammad specifically, he told USA Today that if the UCLA freshman isn’t cleared by December, he should drop out of college and start preparing for the 2013 NBA Draft.
“Why take classes? Go get a trainer. You’re going to be a top-five pick. Do what you love to do,” Hill said, “I’m pretty sure there are a lot of guys out there that went to a program and took some type of benefits. You’re telling him that he has to go to college and now you’re going to sit him down because he did something? He is going to be a millionaire.”
Some are going to say this is shaky advice coming from a conference rival. I see it differently. Hill knows firsthand how some players struggle to recover from intense scrutiny on receiving benefits. He attended high school in California with Renardo Sidney, the former McDonald’s All-American who was declared ineligible his freshman year at Mississippi State after receiving over $11,000 in benefits. Sidney never fulfilled his promise over the next two troubled seasons and went undrafted in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Hill’s additional comments seem to suggest this. In regards to Muhammad’s investigation, he said, “It’s going to show future classes, ‘Okay, they’re going to put you under investigation, make you look like the bad guy just to make an example of you. If you don’t want to be investigated, just don’t go to college. If you take money early, make the decision that you’re not going to attend college and you’re going to seek training. There’s nothing bad with that decision.”
It’d only make sense. Taking benefits only hurts players’ chances of being seen by NBA scouts so why not just work on your game and take whatever money you want. And why should any kid risk his career to deal with the NCAA, who’ll more than likely turn you into a villain instead of use common sense to judge your situation.
If Hill’s opinion bothers you because it’s a current athlete, consider what former North Carolina All-American Sean May said to USA Today about Muhammad.
“I would say he shouldn’t play because every time he steps on a floor from this point on he will be getting evaluated and critiqued. If he has an opportunity to be a top pick without school, as much as I think it would be wrong for a lot of players, I think it might be the right call for him.”
College is still the best way to give top players the most exposure and the best coaching. But as much as I’d enjoy to see more players challenge the system like Brandon Jennings did in skipping college to play overseas, the fact that only one player has done it since 2009 says it’s not likely. More kids want to be the next Anthony Davis than risk their future, even if it’s involves getting paid.
Yet nobody should fault Hill for his opinion. It’s one of the soundest you’ll hear from an athlete and if Muhammad is not declared eligible, Hill’s advice might be worth considering. As much as he may be enjoying the college experience, he’d enjoy playing a lot more so let’s hope he’ll suit up before that happens.