USC basketball: More on No. 1 recruit Shabazz Muhammad’s visit
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As I reported Sunday night via Twitter, Shabazz Muhammad, the consensus No. 1 player in the Class of 2012, enjoyed his unofficial visit to USC enough that he apparently said afterward that he’d like to take an official visit there.
That information is according to sources close to the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they’re not authorized to speak on the record. Ron Holmes, Muhammad’s father, said in a telephone interview Monday that any upcoming official visits for his son were tentative at the moment.
‘We really haven’t sat down and decided where his official visits are going to be,’ Holmes said. ‘We’re going to have to start pretty soon.’
Muhammad, a 6-foot-6 forward from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High, accepted the invite about a week ago to attend Sunday’s practice at the Galen Center as the Trojans prepare for their upcoming exhibition trip to Brazil on Aug. 12-21. He was there with Holmes, who played for the USC men’s basketball team from 1981 to 1985, along with his mother, Faye Muhammad, and his younger brother.
Also in attendance were nearly 100 booster-types who had been invited to attend the practice. Two sources said it was ‘coincidence’ that they were there the same night Muhammad was scheduled to attend. Either way, they sat on one side of the Galen Center and he sat on the other. There were also as many as five compliance officers there at times to make sure everyone followed the rules. What’s rather interesting about his unofficial visit is that USC appeared to be out of the running for Muhammad, at least according to numerous reports.
As my colleague Ben Bolch reported recently, Muhammad’s official list, in alphabetical order, included Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA and Nevada Las Vegas -- but not USC.
Muhammad, who can sign either in the fall signing period in November or in the spring signing period in mid-April, has urged outsiders to ignore Internet rumors and he repeated that message again Sunday, emphasizing that he was interested in USC, sources said.
‘He likes USC, he’s always liked KO [USC Coach Kevin O'Neill],’ Holmes said.
USC has been recruiting Muhammad since before he was a freshman, but, largely because of recruiting restrictions the Trojans faced after NCAA sanctions related to O.J. Mayo’s acceptance of impermissible benefits, the Trojans haven’t been able to contact him as much.
One aspect of the pitch USC made to Muhammad at the practice was that if he wanted to play in the NBA he should come play for O'Neill, who has eight seasons of NBA coaching experience.
It helps the team’s case that USC is the only Pacific-12 Conference school that has had a player drafted in the first round in four of the last five NBA Drafts; and that USC has had more first-round selections (four) in the last five years (2007-11) than any Big East team and more than Duke.
It also helped USC’s case that O'Neill helped former forward Nikola Vucevic rise from relative obscurity as a freshman at USC to become the 16th overall draft pick by Philadelphia this June.
Also attending Sunday’s practice was Long Beach Poly’s Roschon Prince, who is ranked as one of the top small forwards in the Class of 2013.
Lastly, as I reported Sunday, USC sophomore forward Curtis Washington suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder during a recent practice and is expected to miss the season after undergoing surgery.
Washington, a 6-10, 245-pound Kentucky native, played in just three games last season.
-- Baxter Holmes