Top college hoops recruit chooses UCLA

April 11, 2012

The Big Blue Nation is back and bigger than ever after taking home the national championship earlier this month.

Under head coach John Calipari, Kentucky has advanced to two Final Fours and became the first program to have five first-round draft picks in the NBA Draft, doing so in 2010. In this year's draft, Calipari says he hopes to churn out six first rounders.

The Kentucky coach has mastered the art of the one-and-done player, and the youngsters to come through Lexington recently have raised the bar.

"This program's not for everybody," Calipari said Wednesday during an ESPNU interview.

However, also on Wednesday, Shabazz Muhammad -- some service's No. 1 player in the nation -- decided Kentucky wasn't for him.

"It was down to Kentucky, Duke, UCLA, and I chose to be a Bruin," Muhammad announced. "So, I'll be at UCLA next year."

Muhammad joins fellow McDonald's All-American Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams in what now becomes one of the top recruiting classes in the country.

"I just think it's a challenge knowing how bad they were these last two years," Muhammad said. "And it's a challenge to really get them back to the top, knowing that they're the leaders in (national) championships with 11, and with Kyle Anderson, a great addition to that program, and Jordan Adams.

"Hopefully, if Tony Parker will come and there's a lot of bits and pieces to that team, we could make it a really great team in the future."

Muhammad was the MVP of the McDonald's All-American Game and broke the scoring record for the Hoop Summit with 35 points last weekend. He and Anderson have talked about playing together at the college level. He's now happy to have that chance.

"I get to play with Kyle Anderson, who just looks up the floor so well and can play the point guard position or any other (perimeter position), and at 6-9 is pretty impressive," Muhammad said.

Both Muhammad and Anderson are two of the top four players in the nation according to

"I'm so happy," Anderson said. "I think we worked well in that Hoop Summit game, and I'm just so happy to have him for the next season. I think we can do some really big things at UCLA."

The Bruins made three straight Final Fours under head coach Ben Howland from 2006-08. Since then, they've failed to make it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament and have twice been left out of the tournament altogether.

Last season, UCLA endured a 19-14 season and were forced to play home games at Honda Center and the Sports Arena with renovations being made to Pauley Pavilion.

Next season, Pauley is scheduled to reopen and Muhammad hopes to see Bruins fans there.

"Everybody in Westwood, L.A., California, get ready for a really good season, a really exciting season. And hopefully we can sell out Pauley."