In perhaps the least surprising announcement of 2013, UCLA star Shabazz Muhammad officially declared for the NBA Draft today.
“I am so thankful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play at UCLA and will always be proud to be a Bruin,” Muhammad said in a statement through the school. “From a young age, I have dreamed of playing in the NBA, and I believe that this is the right time for me to move to the next level.”
The announcement comes more than a month after former head coach Ben Howland said that he fully expected the freshman, once ranked the No. 1 recruit in the country, to go pro after one season.
“That was his last game at Pauley Pavilion, no doubt about it,” he said March 2 after a 74-69 win over Arizona. Howland was fired on March 24.
Muhammad is projected to go in the top 10 of the June 27 draft, signaling the end of a scrutinized one-and-done campaign that began with a three-game NCAA suspension. Throughout the winter, the Pac-12 Co-Freshman of the Year was also criticized for everything from wearing a Gucci backpack to not celebrating teammate Larry Drew II’s game-winner against Washington.
Nonetheless, he led the team with 17.9 points per game and helped the Bruins (25-10) to a Pac-12 regular-season title. UCLA lost to Oregon in the conference tournament final, and then to Minnesota in the NCAA tournament’s round of 64.