Slam Magazine and its online site annually hosts a monthly diary from the top high school basketball player in the country. This year Slam is featuring none other than U.C.L.A.'s number one recruiting target, Shabazz Muhammad. Following in the footsteps of previous stars like Stephon Marbury, LeBron James, and our hero Kevin Love, Shabazz will be making regular entries for the online site throughout his senior year.
Shabazz penned his first installment recently as he and his high school team (Bishop Gorman HS in Las Vegas) are getting prepared for their regular season. You can read the entire piece here at SLAMonline.
For those who haven't been following Shabazz and his recruitment to date, it is worth a read. Beyond being a basketball phenom, he is an articulate and thoughtful young man. For those who have followed his recruitment closely, you will not be surprised that his first diary installment does not offer any new clues as to his choice of schools (even going so far as to list his top 7 schools in alphabetical order). I guess we'll just keep waiting. But in the meantime, here are some notable comments in his diary that jump out.
On his preseason conditioning and keeping healthy:
I had a couple little injuries, nothing major, but I need to take care of my body. I did a lot of icing, doing some yoga, little things to try to prevent injuries.
Seems that Shabazz's yoga regimen would fit right in with the Bruins. As we have discussed on BN, Reeves Nelson swears by yoga, the Wears are doing yoga three times a week, and Coach Howland has been a big advocate. Jordan Farmar sang its praises after getting into yoga at U.C.L.A., and K Love is a devotee also. Bring a mat to Westwood, Shabazz and join the crowd. Also, from my own personal experience with ice baths after cycling, I can attest to both its horror and its miraculous powers.
On his outlook and goals for his team this season:
Our team is looking good. We’ve got a really big starting lineup, and we can get out and run. The goal is simple: not lose a game, be national champions. I think we can do it. We’ve got a tough schedule, some ESPN games, the City of Palms tournament, so it’ll be a challenge. I’m looking forward to it.
Shabazz has a great work ethic, and it is matched by his desire to succeed. You have to appreciate his candor and drive. It's hard to aim much higher than being an undefeated national champion. This is the kind of leadership and winning attitude that could be a big addition to our Bruin squad. I'd love to have our team make this their goal from day one. While as a fan, I would never hold our team to this level of achievement. But from a competitor's standpoint, this is exactly where you want them setting the bar.
On the recruiting process:
Of course everybody wants to know about recruiting. I’ve got seven schools on my list, the same seven schools I’ve had for a while: Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, Texas A&M, UCLA and UNLV. And even though you might hear different, I’m still interested in every school on my list.
Anyway, right now, I’m just talking to a lot of coaches, listening to what they have to say and trying to go from there. I’m a humble guy. I’m just trying to get all the information I can, and then whenever I think the time is right I’ll make my decision. I know if I take my time, it’s going to help me in the long run.
Shabazz is still playing his cards close to the vest, and that's the right thing for him to do. While we all know that U.C.L.A. would be a fantastic place for him, he definitely owes it to himself to take every opportunity to visit all the programs he can and gather all the information available and make the best decision for himself. He only gets this one shot at going through the recruiting process, so he is right to keep his mind open and let the recruiting season play out. He is takingfull advantage and letting the process run its course before announcing a decision. Despite being the top recruit in the country, he has handled himself very well through this process and shown a lot of maturity, and that speaks well to the kind of kid he is.
We know that no other school can match U.C.L.A.'s quality of basketball teaching, as evidenced by the former Bruins who are starring all over the NBA, combined with the best collegiate campus and academic setting in the country. Let's keep our fingers crossed that Shabazz's pal Kyle Anderson and Coach Howland and the rest of the squad will convince Shabazz that Westwood is the right place for him.