“Shabazz Muhammad comes in at No. 3, which … well, we’ll see.” That was the main question ESPN had about my basketball projections last year, and Friday the saga of Muhammad continued with his father being ordered on house arrest, months after Muhammad was sited for improper benefits in trips to UNC and Duke, had the Kentucky staff he was going there, and served a 3-game suspension at UCLA. A look at the top 10 projected players and draft picks shows his roller coaster ride:
|Craft, Aaron||6-foot-2||Jr||Ohio St.||8||49||2014|
|Perry, Kendrick||6-foot-0||Jr||Youngstown St.||9||95||2014?|
|Galloway, Langston||6-foot-2||Jr||Saint Joseph’s||10||273||2014?|
The three last columns to the right indicate where the player was ranked prior to the last college season, where he ranked at the end of the season, and where he is projected to go in the draft according to Draft Express (2014 indicates he will enter the draft next year).
Projecting the 4,000 college basketball players each year is a monumental task, and Value Add has built a great track record. One of the stunning picks last year was projecting that Otto Porter would improve from scoring just 9.7 points a game to be the fourth best player in the country. In fact, he was even better as the 2nd best player this season behind Trey Burke, and he is now projected to be the third pick in the NBA draft.
Cody Zeller was projected No. 1 and slid just slightly to be the fifth best player and comes in at 10th in the mock draft at Draft Express, still in the top 1/4 of a percent of all 4000 players. Likewise, Muhammad starting as the projected third best player and being projected to go ninth in the draft is very consistent – but the slip to being just the 326th best player in the country this year hurt UCLA’s potential for a run.
Still, Muhammad and his fellow freshman improved so much once he was past the recruitment controversy that they won the Pac 12 and appeared ready to make a run until Jordan Adams, the 33rd best player in the country, broke his foot at the end of the season.
The disappointment ended in Ben Howland being fired and Muhammad entering the draft. The recruitment controversy that cost him the beginning of the season and the potential that the investigation of his father may have been a distraction may have been factors that prevented one of the best non-Kentucky freshman classes from making a huge run.
His father Ronald Holmes was cited by prosecutors for alleged scams over almost a decade.