SANTA ANA, Calif. –
As eager as Nike Extravaganza fans were to get a glimpse of Shabazz Muhammad
on Saturday night, the media was equally as interested in finding out where he stood in a closely-followed recruitment – specifically in regard to local favorite UCLA.
The Bruins have been mentioned consistently as a leader in the race for the Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
star's services over the past 12 months. But Ben Howland's team is struggling through a 13-10 season most notable for the departure of troubled forward Reeves Nelson and the success of UCLA transfers at other schools.
"Losing is a bad thing to do but UCLA is a good program and I like Ben Howland and coach (Phil) Mathews," Muhammad said. "They are still there and I'm still looking at them really hard."
The 6-foot-6 wing and top-ranked Class of 2012 prospect by MaxPreps mentioned Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and UNLV as his leaders in addition to the Bruins.
"Probably in April I will make my decision," Muhammad said. "Right now I'm not even worrying about the recruiting process. But I think it's going to hit me soon and it is going to be hard for me."
As for Saturday, Muhammad didn't disappoint. He finished with 41 points on 13 of 20 shooting – including 6 of 6 from beyond the arc. Four years into their coach-player relationship, Bishop Gorman head coach Grant Rice is still awed.
"He's a machine. On the court, off the court he does things the right way," Rice said. "He's a good student, he's good on campus. Everybody loves him, he's always smiling. He plays as hard as he can and just a gentleman. Very well-raised by his parents."
Muhammad is averaging 29.9 points per game this season and nearly 10 rebounds per outing.AZTECS EARLY LEADER FOR PRINCE?Roschon Prince
entered high school with the unfair tag of potential No. 1 player of the Class of 2013. Two years later he is re-emerging as en elite prospect with his play at Long Beach Poly (Calif.)
The 6-6, 210-pound wing is posting 20.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per game this season, helping the Jackrabbits compile a 21-1 record. Poly's run this year has been especially impressive considering it lost four of its top five scorers – including state player of the year candidate and Boston College signee Ryan Anderson – from a 31-win team.
"I didn't think we would be 21-1 at this point but the guys are embracing our philosophy and they are starting to believe in themselves," Long Beach Poly head coach Sharrief Metoyer said. "A lot of these guys experienced winning last year. They know what it takes to win."
Prince has been a huge part of that, including Saturday when he posted 20 points in the second half (finishing with 25) of a 67-45 win over Arizona-bound guard Gabe York and Orange Lutheran.
Following the contest, Prince identified a leader in his recruitment.
"San Diego State is probably the leader right now," Prince said. "I love California and I like how they play and get up and down. It's basically the same playing style as Poly, so I'm liking that."
He also mentioned Georgetown prominently along with Arizona, Arizona State, Marquette, UCLA and USC as schools checking in.
Expect the interest to increase as he enters the spring and summer.
"I feel like I have been overlooked but I'm looking to show what people what I can do at things like this Extravaganza," Prince said.