No. 2 prospect Shabazz Muhammad picks UCLA

By Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer
Shabazz Muhammad, the nation's No. 2-ranked player, announced for UCLA on Wednesday night. (NBA)

Throughout Shabazz Muhammad's recruitment, UCLA was constantly mentioned as the leader for his services. Other schools seemed to jump to the forefront, but the Bruins never really strayed from pole position.

On Wednesday, Muhammad made it official: he's headed to Westwood.

"I chose to be a Bruin," Muhammad said on ESPNU Wednesday night.

Muhammad, a 6-foot-6 wing from Bishop Gorman (Nev.), chose the Bruins over finalists Kentucky and Duke. The Blue Devils gained steam in the past couple of weeks, while some in recent weeks saw the Wildcats as the leader. Kansas, Arizona, UNLV, USC, Texas A&M and Memphis were also involved with Muhammad at one time or another.

"It's a challenge, knowing how bad they were these last two years," he said. "There's a lot of bits and pieces to make it a really great team in the future."

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He is the No. 2-ranked player in the class of 2012, sitting just behind Nerlens Noel. Muhammad held the top spot for most of the past year, only moving back a notch when Noel reclassified to 2013. Muhammad is one of the hardest-working players in the country, standing out to onlookers in all-star practices in the last month.

Muhammad is a left-handed scoring machine, overpowering most defenders with his strength when he drives to the rim. He finishes extremely well, and is nearly unstoppable with his mid-range game. Moreover, he has improved his outside shooting, making him even more difficult to guard on the wing. Muhammad is constantly looking to attack the basket, and comes up big in important moments. He can also utilize back-to-the-basket moves against smaller or weaker defenders.

At UCLA, Muhammad joins top-100 prospects Kyle Anderson (No. 3) and Jordan Adams (No. 71) in Ben Howland's 2012 recruiting class. The combination of Muhammad and Anderson could be one of the most dangerous in the country next season.

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