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Ben Howland: UCLA still awaiting word on Muhammad, Anderson

By Jeff Goodman | College Basketball Insider

The eligibility status of UCLA's talented freshman duo of Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson remains under NCAA review because of reports they may have received improper benefits.

"It's an ongoing process," Bruins coach Ben Howland said on Wednesday. "We've got about a month or so before we play our first game. Until that time, we're waiting to get word from the NCAA. Beyond that, we can't comment due to student privacy laws."

"But I'm hopeful," he added. "I'm optimistic. They're great kids and I'm really excited about the coming season."

CBSSports.com reported on Muhammad's issues back in February and his family's involvement with a pair of financial advisers. According to sources, Muhammad could miss significant time this season. Anderson's recruitment has been under NCAA investigation and, according to sources, his father's relationship with agent Thad Foucher is the primary issue. One source close to the situation said Anderson is likely to be cleared prior to the start of the season, unless new information is obtained.

Both Muhammad and Anderson were the cornerstone of what most recruiting experts consider the top-ranked freshman class in the nation. It also includes big man Tony Parker and wing Jordan Adams.

The NCAA did not allow Muhammad to go on the team's summer trip to China. The 6-foot-6 wing, who was ranked as the top player in the class by some recruiting experts, has also battled injuries recently.

"He had a really bad ankle sprain," Howland said, "He hurt it in July and it kept him out for literally two months. It was about the worst sprain I've ever seen. He's back, even though he's got a little issue with his groin, but it's not serious. He's pretty healthy now."

Anderson is a 6-foot-8 1/2 forward who Howland said will have the ball in his hands much of the time, but he'll have to guard forwards on the defensive end. Howland said both Anderson and Larry Drew II will share point guard duties.

"Kyle is a ready, really smart and heady player," Howland said. "He's got a great feel for the game. When he's at his best, he has the ball in his hands. He makes plays for others and is so good at facilitating."

Howland said that his team will play more up-tempo this season with the addition of Drew, who sat out last season following a transfer from North Carolina.

"He's so good at pushing the ball and he makes good decisions," Howland said. "Having him and Kyle out there at the same time is really fun. They're both such great passers, it's infectious. Our team was unbelievably unselfish on the trip to China."

While Muhammad, Anderson and even Parker have received nearly all the attention, Howland said that the least-heralded of the freshman quartet -- Jordan Adams -- has been as good as any of them.

"He's really been a surprise from the standpoint that he's as good as anybody we've got," Howland said. "He's a really good player. He's a great shooter, a great scorer and a great passer. He has limitations athletically, but he's going to be a terrific player."

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