UCLA is scheduled to play three exhibition contests in China this season, but the team will be playing without highly touted recruit Shabazz Muhammad.
ESPN reports that the NCAA has been investigating whether or not Muhammad received improper benefits during UCLA’s recruitment, but he has not been ruled eligible or ineligible just yet. The investigation concerns whether or not he received improper benefits from the brother of an assistant coach at his high school or from a financial planner who helped fund a summer team on which he played.
But, since using an ineligible player in an exhibition game is still against the rules, UCLA is leaving the 6-foot-6 swingman home. If the Bruins chose to play him anyway, they could face penalties. Shabazz Muhammad is under the impression, presumably from the NCAA, that he will be ruled eligible to play soon.
“Right now, I think I’m eligible to play,” Shabazz Muhammad told ESPN. “I’m in constant communication with (the NCAA) and it’s going good so far.”
UCLA will open the regular season November 9 against Indiana State in the refurbished Pauley Pavilion.
The L.A. Times reports that the Bruins’ China trip will pit the team against two university teams and the professional league Shanghai Sharks. The Bruins leave for China August 22. The games are part of a sports festival being held in Beijing and Shanghai.
While Shabazz Muhammad will not be making the trip, UCLA’s other highly anticipated freshmen (Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson, and Tony Parker) will be coming along to make their UCLA debut.