UCLA has nabbed the top player in the country for the class of 2012. Shabazz Muhammad committed to play for the Bruins on Wednesday night instead of his other two finalists, Kentucky and Duke. Coming off of a few hugely disappointing seasons, Ben Howland's UCLA program needed an infusion of talent and Muhammad is a major, major talent infusion.
Muhammad is a 6'6'' wing player who checks in at 215 lbs. He's been described by just about everyone as a "scoring machine" with a fantastic ability to get to the rim and finish with his elite athleticism. He's also been impressing folks in the last few months with an improved jump shot that should make him the best all-around freshman scorer in the country next season.
As great as Muhammad's skill is, what has opened the eyes of many scouts, coaches and observers is his attitude. He showed up to high school just hoping get a college scholarship and now, he has his pick of any school in the country. That came from working his tail off for four years and that drive and work ethic is what people love about him. His motor is off the charts.
With the Bruins struggling to win of late, many wondered why Shabazz would be considering UCLA. What he and everyone else kept saying was that he was intrigued by the way Howland prepares players for the NBA, where Shabazz will be in one year. That means he's going to have to work on his defense and hope to bring the rest of the team along with him.
Shabazz joins a recruiting class that already includes Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams. Tony Parker may join it to, but with or without him, the Bruins will have one of the top recruiting classes in the country. That's just a lot of stars, though. UCLA, and especially Howland, need to go out and put it together.
The pieces are all there now for a Pac-12 title, a consistently high ranking and a deep run into the tournament. With the new Pauley Pavilion opening, too, there is absolutely no reason not to go out and make good on that.
UPDATE I: Just going to leave you with one line, one quote from Kyle Anderson, who joined Shabazz on the ESPNU selection show.
Just get ready, Westwood.