Shabazz Muhammad won’t join UCLA on basketball trip to China

Shabazz Muhammad, the high-rated freshman on UCLA’s basketball team, is expected to stay behind when the Bruins travel to China for an exhibition tour next week, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The NCAA is investigating the circumstances of Muhammad’s recruitment and that process is unlikely to be finished before the team leaves Los Angeles for Beijing on Aug. 22, said the person, who was not authorized to discuss the matter because of the inquiry. Muhammad would remain behind and attend classes, the person said.

UCLA officials had no immediate comment Tuesday night, and Coach Ben Howland did not return a text message seeking comment.

NCAA officials have spoken with Muhammad but have yet to speak with his family, the person said.

Muhammad, a 6-foot-6 swingman, is the crown jewel of UCLA’s freshman class, which has been ranked second in the nation behind Kentucky’s. Fellow freshmen Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker will make their debuts for the Bruins in three exhibition games on the China trip.

The NCAA is looking into whether Muhammad received improper benefits for unofficial trips to schools from Benjamin Lincoln, the brother of an assistant coach at Muhammad’s high school, Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, reported in February.

The NCAA is also investigating whether Muhammad received financial help from Ken Kavanagh, a New York financial planner who helped fund the Las Vegas-based Dream Vision Foundation summer team on which Muhammad played. Kavanagh has said he is a longtime friend of the family.

Muhammad said last month that expected to be cleared by the NCAA.

In China, UCLA will play two games against university teams and one against the Shanghai Sharks, a Chinese professional team. The Bruins are scheduled to open the regular season Nov. 9 against Indiana State at Pauley Pavilion.