Ever since his hype as the nation’s top recruit, UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad has been almost universally regarded as a one-and-done — bound for the NBA Draft after his spending a season showing off his wares in college.
After the Bruins beat Arizona 74-69 in their last home game of the season, coach Ben Howland said he expected that to still hold true.
“I’m very much a realist now,” Howland said. “I knew going into this that it was a one-year deal. And it should be. He’s a lottery pick. He’s a top-five pick. When you have that going for you, it is absolutely the right thing for him. That was his last game at Pauley Pavilion, no doubt about it.
“I know that. He knows that. We all know that. So we want this season to go as long as possible.”
Muhammad took the press conference podium minutes later, but denied that he was ready to make a decision: “It’s still a long season of basketball. We don’t know yet.”
His father, Ron Holmes, echoed the comments. He said the family had yet to discuss the matter, stressing that Muhammad is having fun in college and could elect to return.
“I don’t know why Ben said that,” Holmes said.
Howland wasn’t as resigned to the departure of freshman Kyle Anderson. The 6-foot-9 point forward’s offense has ticked up lately, and ESPN’s Chad Ford recently projected him as one of the first players outside the first round. Anderson’s answer about his future was similar to Muhammad’s.
“I’m not really thinking about that,” he said. “I’m too caught up in the season and what we can do to get better every day. I’m not thinking about what’s going on after the season.”