Shabazz Muhammad Starting to Assert Himself for UCLA

By Evan Barnes
Jayne Kamin-Oncea – USA Today Sports Images

Heading into Tuesday’s game against Long Beach State, a game UCLA should win easily, the focus will be on how Shabazz Muhammad will follow up his best game as a Bruin. After scoring a career-high 25 points against Prairie View A&M, he looked every bit like the player the Bruins recruited last year.

What he told reporters after the game should scare the rest of the Pac-12.

“I’m starting to get a lot more confident,” Muhammad said. “Guys free me up in transition, shooting the three, taking guys off the dribble – I’m feeling a lot more comfortable in my game how it’s going right now.”

That sounds like a player who knows his game is coming around. Much has been made about him shedding the weight he gained before he touched the court. Losing it helped improve his mobility/stamina and after seven games, you can tell Muhammad’s biggest improvement is his confidence.

He’s scored in double figures in every game but now he’s doing it by showing the full range of his skill set. He even hit three 3-pointers vs. Prairie View A&M, the most he’s hit all year.

The thing that impressed me the most when I saw him in high school was how easy he made his scoring look from anywhere on the court. I knew it wouldn’t be that easy in college but now, I’m seeing more glimpses of the kid I saw dominate.

It’s easy to assume that Muhammad played so well because it was weaker competition but for a player who needs to trust his game and be more assertive, it was a positive start. That performance Saturday should put the Pac-12 on notice that Muhammad is that much closer to showing his full potential.

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