high school basketball:

Playing to chants of ‘hometown hero,’ Shabazz Muhammad scores 30 points in Gorman opener

UNLV fans continue their pursuit of nation’s top prospect, showering him with cheers all evening in Gaels’ opener

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Sam Morris

Bishop Gorman’s Shabazz Muhammad.

Bishop Gorman vs. Durango High School

KSNV coverage of Bishop Gorman basketball team battling Durango High School and interview with Gorman star player, Shabazz Muhammad, Dec. 9, 2011.

Prep Sports Now

Moving from football to basketball

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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer discuss the Bishop Gorman football team's third straight state championship and glance at the basketball season on this abbreviated edition of the podcast.

When Bishop Gorman High basketball player Shabazz Muhammad closed the first quarter Friday against visiting Durango with a pair of breakaway dunks, he couldn’t help noticing how a group of fans sitting near the basket reacted after the plays.

The 6-foot-6 senior Muhammad, who is the consensus top prospect for the class of 2012 and a primary recruiting target for hometown UNLV, brought chants of “hometown hero” after the sequence of highlight-reel plays.

It was the Gorman team’s season opener, and like every local major event Muhammad had played in the past year, supporters of the scarlet and gray coordinated an effort on social media to attend. Their hope on the recruiting trail is simple: to show Muhammad that staying home for college, even if it’s for one year, is a viable option.

Muhammad scored 10 of his game-high 30 points in the first quarter and Gorman was on cruise control most of the night in a 93-53 victory. In the first quarter, Muhammad outscored Durango 10-6 — with each basket igniting a new chant from the roughly 20 Rebel fans in attendance.

“I appreciate them coming out here. It was a great atmosphere in general,” Muhammad said. “The Rebel fans came out here and spent their time coming to watch me play. I appreciate that.”

Muhammad added roughly 15 pounds of bulk in the off-season, using the strength against Durango to score a majority of his points on the inside or with dunks. He had a trio of 3-point plays — when he was fouled while attempting a dunk, and was still able to score despite the contact.

“It is a big difference (with him) being so much more physical than people out there,” Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “We are trying to get him to be a complete player, which is what he is doing. That is his main focus this year. Rebound, hitting the open guy, and filling the lane and defending. He did a good job of that tonight.”

Muhammad wasn’t the lone Gorman player UNLV fans were interesting in seeing.

Demetris Morant, a senior forward who signed with the Rebels last month, finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Morant had two blocks on Durango’s initial possession of the game and altered field goal attempts all evening.

“It just made me want to play harder,” Morant said of the early blocks

And, like everybody in the Gorman gym, he would love to see Muhammad at UNLV. “That would be huge for us,” he said smiling.

Gorman led 23-6 after the first quarter, including Stanford signee Rosco Allen connecting on a pair of jumpers in showing his range. Allen, who was limited with foul trouble, finished with nine points.

“(Allen) is doing a great job pushing the ball and running the floor,” Rice said.

Gorman led by double-digits midway through the first quarter and never stopped applying the pressure. The Gaels made 64 percent of their shots, including Muhammad connecting on 13-of-19 attempts. His brother, junior guard Rashad Muhammad, also scored in double figures with 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting.

“I wasn’t nervous, but you are always a little queasy just (not) knowing how those first five minutes are going to go,” Rice said. “But we made some jump shots, we ran the floor and got a couple of dunks, and that got us out to an early lead. I was really happy with the way the guys started the game.”

Freshman center Stephen Zimmerman had eight points, four rebounds and two blocks in his debut, playing 11 productive minutes and showing he’ll be a regular-contributor in the rotation. Zimmerman, despite playing in his first varsity game, already has several scholarship offers — including one from UNLV.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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  1. Call me crazy...but I SERIOUSY don't want this guy on our team. You hear his quotes? Barely ANY appreciation. 50 pts in one game? Selfish a little? He will be transfering out of UNLV the minute Dave Rice tells him not to put that many shots up. There's a reason why Allen and Carter hate this guy and can't play with him...that's why they chose other schools instead. Or at least Carter for the most part. We have a play maker in Katin who can take the last shot, and a shot blocking monster in Morant. We will be JUST FINE without him! Just need someone to fill stanbacks role but he's inconsistent anyways.

  2. You two are crazy!!!!! Having a recruit of his stature changes the entire perception of UNLV nation wide. I don't care if he is here for only one year and he goes to the NBA. Once recruits see that UNLV get them the coverage they need to succeed to be drafted the sky is the limit for UNLV. I really can't believe that I read this two comments and sure hope Shabazz does't because that is not the way a majority of Rebel fans feel!!!!!

  3. @ heretic--
    love the name, dude. wish i'd thought of it.

  4. Wow! Both of you obviously know nothing about Shabazz. He is great player and makes everyone around him better. Team first guy that wants to win a state championship! I'm excited that he is still considering UNLV, and hope he decides to stay here.

  5. Gang: Every time I asked Shabazz last night to talk about himself, he turned it into an answer complimenting teammates. That's maturity. Trust me, high school kids aren't usually that humble. I will state the obvious: he'd be a big-time score for UNLV. Not only on the court, but showing they can land 5-star recruits.

  6. For those who think having him 1 and done @ UNLV is a bad move....you're crazy. All big-time programs get big-time, short-term players...see Texas (Durant), Oklahoma (Griffin) for recent examples. If UNLV wants to be a long-term big-time program, they need to attract recruits like Shabazz...

    ...however, for those who think UNLV has a shot @ Shabazz, stop kidding yourselves. The kid is going to pick another program. Duke, UCLA, Kentucky, Kansas...he'll go where he'll get the most exposure. The stars can't align any better than this as far as recruiting, current HC related to UNLV HC, local star, #1 ranking...If his own brother can't help him recruit a #1 prospect, UNLV's hope for greatness will be damaged.

    I'm hoping Sabazz signs with UNLV, but my gut is telling me he won't. We needed to hire a bigger name coach than Dave Rice to attract a recruit of Shabazz' stature. What will future top recruits think when a local #1 disses his hometown University? If we want him at UNLV, we need hardcore boosters talking to his family, taking them to dinner, paying for 5 star accommodations when they travel for his club basketball team. I don't think any boosters from UNLV have been doing that....thus the source of my doubts that he'll sign with us.

  7. Well there's no chance on earth he'll go to UCLA, and it would be foolish for him to step into a Duke uniform without them trying to get him. So its either us, or UK. And i see him going to UK:)

  8. Why would coach Rice tell him not to shoot the ball so much when that is his thing (to give everyone all the freedom).

  9. I was at the game and didn't hear the "hometown hero" chants. The UNLV fans need to pick it up a bit.

  10. Having Muhammad here is definitely a double edged sword. Its generally a good idea for kids to get out of their hometown for college for a number of reasons, and most kids want do exactly that. Any college coach will tell you that.