LOS ANGELES — Shabazz Muhammad is one-and-done at UCLA.
The Pac-12 co-freshman of the year on Tuesday announced the news that had been expected since he arrived in Westwood: He’s leaving to enter the NBA Draft.
Muhammad, a former Bishop Gorman High School standout, was the Bruins’ leading scorer with 17.9 points per game, fourth-best in the league. The 6-foot-6-inch guard was named to the all-league first team and helped UCLA to a 25-10 record, the Pac-12 regular-season title and a runner-up finish in the league tournament. The Bruins lost to Minnesota in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
“I am so thankful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play at UCLA and will always be proud to be a Bruin,” Muhammad said in a statement released by the school. “From a young age, I have dreamed of playing in the NBA, and I believe that this is the right time for me to move to the next level.”
Ron Holmes, Muhammad’s father, didn’t return a phone call seeking comment on his son’s decision.
The NBA Draft is June 27 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Muhammad’s stock has slipped in the past several months, but he still is projected to be a top-10 pick. Chad Ford, who covers the NBA for ESPN, has Muhammad going at No. 7 to the Sacramento Kings in his latest mock draft.
Muhammad was the key piece of fired coach Ben Howland’s recruiting class and lived up to his advance billing, scoring in double figures in 31 of 32 games. He scored at least 20 points in 14 games, guiding UCLA to a 12-2 record in them.
He had back-to-back 27-point games in December, including seven points in overtime of a 97-94 victory over seventh-ranked Missouri when he hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with a minute left in the extra period for UCLA’s first win over a top-10 nonconference opponent since 2007.
He dealt with injuries and illness throughout the season, and it came out in March that he was 20 years old, not 19 as UCLA had said in its media guide.
Muhammad began the season under the cloud of an NCAA investigation. He was forced to sit out the first three games and repay $1,600 in impermissible benefits after the NCAA and UCLA found that he accepted travel and lodging during three unofficial visits to Duke and North Carolina.
Muhammad singled out Howland, who was fired last month after 10 years at UCLA, in his statement, saying, “It has been an honor and a privilege to play for coach Ben Howland.”
Muhammad played on three state championship teams at Gorman. He was the No. 1-rated player in the country coming out of high school.