Muhammad wants to visit Memphis; says UA is in the pictureby Javier Morales on Jul. 23, 2010, under Sports
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LAS VEGAS — With the amount of time Shabazz Muhammad of Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High School has been in the spotlight, it seems like he should already be in college.
Muhammad, however, is only about to enter his junior season, perhaps the most coveted guard prospect in the Class of 2012.
College coaches have recruited him since he was in middle school and he has traveled the country with his high school and AAU programs throughout his freshman and sophomore seasons. Many of those coaches continue to observe Muhammad to this very day at the adidas Super 64 tournament at Rancho High School.
Muhammad will continue to experience that national schedule with Bishop Gorman plenty more, including the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla., and the Nike Extravaganza against St. Patrick’s of Elizabeth, N.J., in Anaheim next season.
When asked if he is antsy to finally start college, Muhammad said, “Yeah, a little bit, but it’s been a great experience with these coaches calling.”
UA coach Sean Miller and his brother Archie Miller, an assistant coach with the Wildcats, are two of those coaches Muhammad is talking about. Book Richardson, another assistant, observed Muhammad and Class of 2012 wing player Winston Shepard and Class of 2013 guard Tyrell Robinson in the Dream Vision’s game with the Franchize All-Stars of Texas on Thursday night.
Coaches from Memphis, Duke and North Carolina were also among the large group in attendance. USC coach Kevin O’Neill was also there.
As a sidebar, Lute Olson’s coaching lineage is very apparent here. Including O’Neill, former members of Olson’s coaching staff include Memphis head coach Josh Pastner, Cal assistant Jay John, Stanford assistant Rodney Tention, and UTEP assistant Phil Johnson.
Former assistants who guided the UA in 2008-09 after Olson retired –Russ Pennell (Grand Canyon head coach) and Mike Dunlap (St. John’s assistant) — are also present. Matt Brase, Olson’s grandson and former member of the UA staff that included Pennell, Dunlap and Bret Brielmaier, is also in Las Vegas as a Grand Canyon assistant.
Furthermore, Memphis assistant coach Jack Murphy spent eight years as a team manager, recruiting coordinator, administrative assistant and video coordinator under Olson at Arizona from 1998-2006. Murphy and Pastner are recruiting Muhammad successfully to this point.
“I’m supposed to go to Memphis (for an unofficial visit) soon and that will be a great experience,” said Muhammad, who at 6-5 can play three positions — point guard, shooting guard and wing. “Coach Pastner is a great guy. He’s working hard to come get me to his program.
“He and the assistant (Murphy) talk to my dad every day. He’s on top of things.”
Muhammad, who already has taken unofficial trips to Duke and North Carolina, confirmed that Arizona remains “definitely in the picture.”
“I really like talking to their assistant coach (Archie Miller),” he said. “They’ve also had great guards come through there like Mike Bibby.”
Kansas is also hot on his trail. The Jayhawks will play the Wildcats in Las Vegas in November.
“I will try to get out there and watch that,” he said. “Being a junior now, I’m going to be watching their program closely this season.”
Muhammad is relentless attacking the basket and he is a fierce defender. His size allows him to be physical with smaller guards and also look over them for unobstructed shots. His biggest question mark has been the consistency of his jump shot.
“I’ve been working a lot on my jump shot, and my free-throw shooting,” he said. “I feel like I’m getting a lot better in those areas.”