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December 20, 2014

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high school basketball:

Shabazz Muhammad shines at McDonald’s game, trims UNLV off list of suitors

Image

Nam Y. Huh / AP Photo

West’s Shabazz Muhammad (15), a Bishop Gorman senior, dunks during the second half of the McDonald’s All-American boys’ basketball game against the East squad Wednesday, March 28, 2012, in Chicago. The West won 106-102 with Muhammad leading all scorers with 21 points.

Bishop Gorman player not sure on UNLV

KSNV coverage of Bishop Gorman's basketball player Shabazz Muhammad is still deciding among top colleges, March 27, 2012.

Local students play in national basketball game

KSNV coverage of local high school basketball players competing in the national McDonald's All American game, March 28, 2012.

Shabazz Muhammad wins McDonald's dunk title

UNLV is out of the race to sign hometown basketball star Shabazz Muhammad of Bishop Gorman High.

ESPN recruiting expert Dave Telep reported Wednesday during the telecast of the McDonald’s All-American game in Chicago that the 6-foot-6 Muhammad, the nation’s No. 1 overall recruiting prospect, has trimmed his list of schools to three — Duke, Kentucky and UCLA.

In Telep’s blog, which is part of the ESPN Insider package, Muhammad hints he is closer to a decision. “I’m considering five but there are three that [stand out],” Muhammad told Telep.

While there has been much speculation over the last year about Muhammad’s recruitment, this is the first time UNLV has been left off the standout’s list. Just last week, he told the Sun that UNLV was still very much in consideration and he’d make an official decision April 11.

“Coach (Dave) Rice is a great guy, and he’s bringing in a lot of good players,” Muhammad told the Sun. “I’m looking at them hard.”

A week later, however, Telep — a respected reporter from a credible newsgathering organization — informs us otherwise. Muhammad, the two-time Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year and Naismith National Player of the Year, has taken the Rebels off his list.

Earlier, Telep wrote: “UNLV, the school coached by the brother of his high school coach, and Kansas are part of the second tier of programs, if you will, on his list. At this point, following a sit-down interview with the player who has been the star of the first two days of McDonald’s practice, it appears likely he’ll pick between the Bruins, Wildcats and Blue Devils.

“Muhammad understands that the Blue Devils are all in regarding him and have been all year. His affinity for coach Mike Krzyzewski is apparent. Kentucky has emphasized, and rightfully so, its open door from Lexington to the NBA when it comes to elite players. Regarding UCLA, Muhammad freely admits that part of his game that needs altering is defense, and he’s certain Ben Howland would be the guy to address that area.”

All eyes were on Muhammad during Wednesday’s telecast — there was a feature about him during halftime, the announcers spent a majority of the night praising his talents and speculating about his decision, and he drew comparisons to the McDonald’s game’s famous alumni such as Kobe and LeBron.

Everyone wants to get a piece of Muhammad, and ESPN gave us a healthy dosage. On the high school sports landing page on ESPN.com, three stories are about Muhammad.

"Oh man, it's stressful," Muhammad said in a lengthy profile by ESPN’s Jason Jordan. "Just to be on the phone with Coach [Mike] Krzyzewski and listening to him really open up about how bad he needs me, then talk to Coach Cal and Coach [Ben] Howland and Coach [Bill] Self — iIt weighs on you. It's not as glamorous as it sounds because I'm saying no to great options. That's rough."

When the news quickly started spreading on Twitter, UNLV supporters — the same fans who praised Muhammad endlessly over the last year in attempting to lure him to stay in Las Vegas — immediately responded negatively.

The Twitter handle @LVlovesShabazz posted: “It is official. Shabazz has cut down his list to Kentucky, UCLA and Duke. I will deactivate this account tomorrow. Follow @LVlovesABennet.”

The new account is in support of another McDonald’s All-American being courted by UNLV: Findlay Prep post player Anthony Bennett. Bennett is considering UNLV, Florida, Kentucky, Washington and Oregon.

There was also a game on Wednesday. And, like most of his career, Muhammad was unstoppable.

He was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, scoring 21 points to lead the West to a 106-102 victory. In the first half, he had 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting (four of the seven field goals were on dunks) with five rebounds.

"When you come to any event you want to be known as the best player," Muhammad told the Chicago Tribune. "At the beginning of the game I was really getting up and down the floor and things went great for me."

His great performances weren’t limited to the game. Monday, he won the event’s dunk contest with a pair of perfect scores in the final round — the final dunk was the top play on SportsCenter. He also dominated during the practices leading up to Wednesday’s game, according to reports.

Those performances won't continue next year in Southern Nevada — something we finally learned Wednesday after months of speculation.

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

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  1. Maybe this can end all the hype of local kids coming to UNLV. In most cases, it is better for the young man to leave home and get away to figure things out on their own. I've never been a big fan of all the local pressure for these local kids to sign with UNLV. In fact, every 18,19 year old kid should get the hell out and live a little away from home! It promotes maturity,organization,self-reliance and some responsibility.

  2. If he goes to KY, they will probably repeat even if 2 of their freshmen are one and done. If he goes to Duke, he can help them make the final 4. Either way, he is probably a 1-2 yr college player at best. I wish his the best of luck even though I'm a Rebel fan. Would love to see UNLV get Bennett and go to the sweet 16 next year and face KY or Duke (wherever he goes) and have the Rebels known him out of his chance of a national championship ring.

  3. "Just to be on the phone with Coach [Mike] Krzyzewski and listening to him really open up about how bad he needs me, then talk to Coach Cal and Coach [Ben] Howland and Coach [Bill] Self -- iIt weighs on you. It's not as glamorous as it sounds because I'm saying no to great options. That's rough."

    ....and it's back to status quo on the recruiting front....notice how Rice wasn't on that list of coaches that "weighs" on him? Because he's got no clout...whatever.

  4. "In fact, every 18,19 year old kid should get the hell out and live a little away from home! It promotes maturity,organization,self-reliance and some responsibility"

    And yet, the vast majority of self-made millionaires live in the town in which they were raised (and often born).

  5. I'm not as diplomatic it's not quite Lebronish but no one likes to get strung along.
    This town is full headliners he would have been a great ambassador for the school and the town. Sooner or later someone will take the torch.
    Thankful for Anthony Marshall.

  6. Absolutely disagree. Full on Lebroned. Why cause he used us as a fan base to create buzz, us the facilities and watch real practices, etc. all things designed to further your game and self. All he had to do is dangle a carrot on a stick. And I don't want to rip a minor here for not making good choice ( when it come to handling a situation) it was his puppet master father who pulled all the strings. He is a great player who unlv could have used but we are a program well respected as a top 10 tradition school. We don't need any favors by just the near mentions anymore. I also understand that you don't tend to get everybody without paying players ( right caliparie) so I'm not mad there but like LeBron, he officially made it clear on tv to get more exposure, he dangled it on a string to fill an agenda, and when you have an entire city recruiting you( not just a coach) and you embrace that then you kind of need to tell that group first why or why not you choose them. Is that law, No. But is that a high moral standard, yes. So if you don't mind being a villon, that's fine. It's working for leBron and his no rings too.

  7. I see the REGGIE BUSH thing all over this. Allegations have already came out about his step dad Mr. Holmes and Adidas. His crew seems very corrupt and the NCAA has already released an open investigation into his traveling-Adidas scandal.

  8. I feel "Lebroned" as well.. UNLV was kept on his short list for PR reason, not legitimate interest. I also agree with Lobo69 that something is not on the up and up.. Adidas can write some big checks. Bennett was always a better fit for us anyways.

  9. Mr.Jackson, why do you post the same thing over and over? You seem to be a little insecure. Where did you graduate from? What direction do you think UNLV should go in? Do you live in Vegas? If your not a UNLV fan, why do read so many articles about UNLV? I'm just curious about your obvious negativity of the school. I realize that it's not Harvard or Stanford but there are a lot of good kids that chose to go there, shouldn't they have some pride in their school?

  10. @djonian81 - You're kidding right?! UNLV compares equally to Duke, Kentucky, and UCLA with Tradition, Facilities, Coaching Staff, and Fan Support?!!! That's got to be the funniest post I've read in a long time....

    I'm an Alumnus and fan of UNLV, but this is the kind of stuff homers hang on to and make me laugh....we're nowhere near close to being on par with those programs in those categories. LMAO