Howland: Shabazz Muhammad is one and done

UCLA freshman sensation Shabazz Muhammad has played his final game at Pauley Pavilion.

Well, at least according to Bruins Coach Ben Howland.

The 6-foot-6 Muhammad is part of a blue-chip freshman class, which includes 6-9 guard Kyle Anderson, on a UCLA team that struggled early in the season but is in the thick of the Pac-12 Conference title race. But the explosive swingman appears headed to the NBA next season, if you listen to Howland.

“That was his last game in Pauley,” Howland said after a hard-fought 74-69 victory over No. 11-ranked Arizona. “There’s no doubt about it. I know that. He knows that. We all know that. So we want this season to go on as long as possible.”

Muhammad led the Bruins with 18 points, hitting a 3-pointer to open the game while scoring their last four points to help seal the win. But he wasn’t giving any indications that this will be his only season at UCLA.

“Everyone has me leaving,” Muhammad said after the game. “There’s a lot to weigh and I have a lot of eligibility left. We’re only losing Larry [Drew]. We could be really good next year.”

Howland seems to already know the score, though.

“I’m a realist guy,” Howland said. “I knew going into this, this deal was a one-year deal. He’s a lottery pick. It’s the absolutely right thing to do.”

Anderson, like Muhammad, didn’t want to talk about leaving UCLA after the game.

“I’m not really thinking about that,” said Anderson, who finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists. “I’m too caught up in this season.”

– Dan Loumena