Ben Howland needs to get commitments from two mega recruits this week. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Decision Day is tomorrow. During the ESPNU "Signing Day Special" at 4:30 p.m. PST time slot Shabazz Muhammad will announce where he is going to college next year. This could be the biggest signing day for UCLA in many years as there are conflicting signals on whether Tony Parker will also decide.
First on Shabazz: signs are looking positive for Shabazz Muhammad to UCLA but Kentucky is trying hard as well. Shabazz is so good he is NBA ready now and without a doubt the best high school player in the country.
"Shabazz is by far the best player here," one Western Conference scout said of the senior swingman from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High. "It's not even close. He's the only one who can play in the NBA tomorrow."
Said one Eastern Conference general manager: "He's a much better shooter than I thought."
Shabazz is even a very good rebounder for his size. That does not mean he is perfect, as his defense needs work. But whoever gets Shabazz is instantly a contender, he is that good.
Some are asking why Shabazz would want to come to UCLA and why he is really a good fit? The reasons are numerous and despite what people may think UCLA has some serious advantages over other schools as I wrote about here. Also, Ben Howland may be the best teacher of defense which is the part of his game Shabazz most needs to work on. Also BruinEngy writes some reasons here. chrissorr has a good point here . While some Kentucky and Duke guys have underachieved in the pros, I think almost all Ben Howland UCLA players have overachieved in the NBA. And this includes not only the under-the-radar in high school to NBA superstars like Russell Westbrook but even top rated high school guys like Kevin Love. Howland can coach the willing.
There is one other reason which should excite all UCLA fans as this Kentucky blog writes (emphasis mine):
Some saw Muhammad being swayed by UK's national title and one-and-done pedigree while others saw him wanting to team up with highly touted guard Kyle Anderson at UCLA.
Kyle Anderson has been recruiting Shabazz as well and watching them play in the Nike Hoops Summit was special.
Tony Parker is an important recruit for a different reason. Top 5 recruits such as Shabazz and maybe Kyle Anderson rarely stay more than a year these days. Parker is not going to be a one and done. Parker is a hard working kid who would be an important player next year and a cornerstone for 2013-14 year.
Rivals.com rank: No. 33
Buzz: A four-time state champion in his home state and a McDonald's All-American, Parker has lived up to the considerable hype that he received before even starting high school. The big-bodied interior player has soft hands, good touch and is a rebounding machine capable of making an instant impact. He was expected to have a decision within the next few days, but the latest word is that his decision could drag out a bit longer. Each time it looks like he may be locking in on one program, rumors arise that it's another. As it is, his is another that is simply too tough to pick a leader from among UCLA, Kansas, Ohio State, Duke, Memphis and Georgia.
Tony Parker may be the only kid whose list of schools at this point is growing. Having been following this closely for a while, I was ready to give up on the kid. At the Nike Hoop Summit he said he was down to four schools and then listed five. Now we are hearing he won't announce tomorrow. But as Tasser10 wrote, the kid really getting a lot of conflicting advice and you can see why this would be a very difficult decision for this serious young man.
One can feel for the kid and it is safe to say the UCLA family would welcome with open arms.
Kyle Anderson is a winner and gamer. Jordan Adams is a fierce competitor and a great shooter. If we can add Shabazz, the most driven player in years, and Tony Parker, the thoughtful hard working big man, wow!