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July 30, 2014

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College basketball:

Shabazz Muhammad, other former local standouts will return for Pac-12 tournament

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Mark J. Terrill / AP

Bishop Gorman High graduate Shabazz Muhammad, shown playing earlier this year for UCLA, will return to Las Vegas March 13 for the Pac-12 Conference Tournament with the Bruins.

Local legend Shabazz Muhammad’s farewell tour to college basketball hits Las Vegas this week when his UCLA basketball team plays in the Pac-12 tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

The Pac-12 regular season champion Bruins will play a to-be-determined opponent at noon Thursday in the quarterfinals. The tournament begins Wednesday with four games in the first round — the winner of the Stanford-Arizona State matchup advances to face Muhammad and the Bruins.

The former Bishop Gorman HIgh star Muhammad, a first-team all-Pac-12 selection and the league’s Freshman of the Year, continued his dominating ways with UCLA. Last week during UCLA’s final home game, Bruins coach Ben Howland said Muhammad had played his final game at Pauley Pavilion, which would mean he'd be leaving UCLA after one season for the NBA.

At Gorman, he was a four-year varsity player, helping the Gaels win three state championships. Last year as a senior, he was the 2012 Naismith Boys High School Player of the Year and won most valuable player honors at the McDonald’s All-American game. He averaged 29.4 points per game as a senior and was the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect by Rivals.com.

At UCLA (23-8), the 6-foot-6 wing is averaging 18.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, showing the ability to score that made him arguably the best high school player in Nevada history. Since the comment from Howland, Muhammad has told Los Angeles area media he's still undecided on next year and solely focused on UCLA's postseason run. Howland later said he regretted making the comment.

Muhammad isn’t the only local in the Pac-12 tournament. Here is a look at the others:

    • Bishop Gorman High graduate Rosco Allen, shown playing earlier this year for Stanford, will return to Las Vegas March 13 for the Pac-12 Conference Tournament with the Cardinal.

      Rosco Allen, Stanford

      When Rosco shined in Las Vegas: Allen was a consensus top-100 overall recruiting prospect and part of three state championship teams during his high school career at Bishop Gorman. Last season during his senior year, Allen averaged 14.1 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game, and the Gaels were one of Nevada’s best all-time teams. He was part of Gorman’s Big 3 — the others, forward Ben Carter (Oregon) and UCLA’s Muhammad also are playing in the Pac-12 event.

      Rosco’s college career: The 6-foot-9 freshman forward is averaging 12.7 minutes per game in his rookie season with the Cardinal, scoring 3.5 points and grabbing 3.9 rebounds per game, primarily off the bench.

    • Oregon freshman Dominic Artis, a Findlay Prep grad, comes up with a loose ball against Portland State on Nov. 12, 2012. Artis helped the Ducks win that game, 80-69, and get them to a 4-0 start.

      Dominic Artis, Oregon

      When Dominic shined in Las Vegas: Artis averaged 14.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.5 steals last season during his lone campaign at Findlay Prep, helping the Pilots finish 32-1 and win the ESPNHS National High School Invitational.

      Dominic’s college career: The 6-foot-1 freshman point guard is averaging 10 points and 3.6 assists per game for Oregon (23-6), returning two weeks ago from a left foot injury that had sidelined him since Jan. 23.

    • Former Findlay Prep player Brandon Ashley, shown playing earlier this year for Arizona, will return to Las Vegas March 13 for the Pac-12 Conference Tournament with the Wildcats.

      Brandon Ashley, Arizona

      When Brandon shined in Las Vegas: Ashley played his final high school season at Findlay Prep, playing in the McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic. He averaged 15.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game to help Findlay post a 32-1 record and win the ESPNHS National High School Invitational. In the championship game against Montverde of Florida, he made 13 of 14 free throws and finished with 31 points.

      Brandon’s college career: The 6-foot-8 freshman post is averaging 7.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in his first season. His career-best game was against Long Beach State earlier in the season, posting 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

    • Ben Carter, Oregon

      When Ben shined in Las Vegas: A three-year varsity player at Bishop Gorman, Carter averaged 10.1 points and 7.4 rebounds in helping the Gaels win the 2012 state championship. He was one of the nation’s top 150 recruiting prospects for the class of 2012. He averaged 12.5 points and 8.5 rebounds as a junior.

      Ben’s college career: Carter, a 6-foot-8 freshman forward, is averaging 2.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 10.5 minutes per game off the Oregon bench. He has made 32 of 38 free throws. He had a career-high 12 points and five rebounds Nov. 23 when Oregon upset UNLV at the Thomas & Mack Center.

    • Former Findlay Prep player Nick Johnson, shown playing earlier this year for Arizona, will return to Las Vegas March 13 for the Pac-12 Conference Tournament with the Wildcats.

      Nick Johnson, Arizona

      When Nick shined in Las Vegas: Johnson played two years at Findlay Prep, averaging 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game as a senior in 2011. He was the nation’s No. 40 overall prospect by Rivals.com. As a junior in 2010, Johnson help Findlay win the ESPN RISE National High School Invitational and averaged 14.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.

      Nick’s college career: The 6-foot-3 sophomore guard is one of the better players in the Pac-12, averaging 11.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game this season. He had one of the top defensive plays of the season on Christmas Day against San Diego State, leaping high and seemingly coming out of nowhere to block a layup attempt by Chase Tapley at the buzzer in Hawaii to preserve a 68-67 win. Last year as a freshman, he scored nine points per game.

    • Bishop Gorman High graduate Johnathan Loyd.

      Johnathan Loyd, Oregon

      When Johnathan shined in Las Vegas: Loyd was the Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year in 2010, starting at point guard all four years for Bishop Gorman and helping the Gaels win 102 games. He averaged 14.0 points, 8.2 assists and 3.3 steals per game as a senior, leading Gorman to a second straight state title and a 30-2 record. He also played football, starting at defensive back and returning kicks on Gorman’s 2009 state championship team.

      Johnathan’s college career: The 5-foot-8 junior point guard is averaging 4.3 points and 2.7 assists while backing up former Findlay Prep player Dominic Artis. Loyd started a handful of games late in the season when Artis was injured, scoring a season-best 15 points and dishing out a career-high nine assists last week against Stanford. He averaged 3.3 points and 2.9 assists last season as a sophomore, and 4.7 points and 2.3 assists per game as a freshman.

    • Next year’s Pac-12 tournament

      Of the 12 Las Vegas area high school basketball players already signed to Division I programs, five will play next year in the Pac-12. That means the March postseason tournament will continue having strong Las Vegas ties. The league is under contract to play the tournament at the MGM through 2015. McDonald’s All-American guard Nigel Williams-Goss, the first four-year player in Findlay Prep history, will play at Washington. Allerik Freeman, also of Findlay Prep, is committed to UCLA. Julian Jacobs (right), who led Desert Pines to the Division I-A state championship and was arguably Las Vegas’ best player last winter, is signed with USC. And, last but not least, twins Malcolm and Marcus Allen of Centennial will play for Stanford. The Allens, both guards, led the state in virtually every category in leading Centennial to the state title game. Next year, all five players could impact the Pac-12 tournament.

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

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