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UCLA's Muhammad leaving for draft after standout season

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Associated Press
4/16/2013 12:50:50 PM
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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 was the Bruins' leading scorer with 17.9 points per game, fourth-best in the league. The 6-foot-6 guard from Las Vegas 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."

Muhammad was the key piece of fired coach Ben Howland's recruiting class and he lived up to his advance billing, scoring in double figures in 31 of the 32 games he played in. He scored at least 20 points in 14 games, guiding UCLA to a 12-2 record in those contests.

He had consecutive 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 non-conference 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 he was.

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 Muhammad 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 honour and a privilege to play for coach Ben Howland."

The NBA draft is June 27.

Shabazz Muhammad (Photo: Sam Forencich/NBAE/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Sam Forencich/NBAE/Getty Images)
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