UCLA's next game will mark one of the most highly anticipated debuts in college basketball, as freshman Shabazz Muhammad will hit for the floor for the Bruins as they meet Georgetown in a Legends Classic semifinal at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Monday night.
The No. 11 Bruins (3-0) will finally have Muhammad, considered by many to be the No. 1 recruit in his class. The 6-foot-6 swingman was declared eligible by the NCAA on Friday after being penalized for accepting travel and lodging during unofficial visits to Duke and North Carolina.The NCAA ruled that the Bruins' own sanctions of Muhammad, which included repaying $1,600 in impermissible benefits to go along with the suspension, were sufficient."I am excited to be able to play for UCLA starting next Monday," Muhammad said in a statement. "My family and friends were very supportive of me throughout this process and I couldn't have gone through this without them."Muhammad, the MVP of the McDonald's All-American game, joins an already talented UCLA freshman class that includes fellow McDonald's All-Americans Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker. Another newcomer, Jordan Adams, leads the Bruins with 24.0 points per game and became the first freshman in school history to score 20-plus in each of his first three contests.Adams had 25 points in 22 minutes of a 100-70 win over James Madison on Thursday.The Bruins shot 59.0 percent in looking much better than they did in their previous contest, an 80-79 overtime victory over UC Irvine last Monday.Sophomore Norman Powell had a career-high 27 points and shot 10 of 14 against James Madison."We came out lackadaisical and played poorly the last game," said Larry Drew II, the North Carolina transfer who is averaging 6.0 points and 8.3 assists. "We definitely picked it up and showed the kind of team we can be."Georgetown (2-0) didn't look overly impressive in its two wins, defeating Liberty 68-59 on Wednesday after a 61-55 victory over Duquesne last Sunday.Sophomore forward Greg Whittington scored a career-high 18 against the Flames."With all due respect to Liberty, we got some games coming up, and we're preparing for some teams that are a little bit better than them," forward Nate Lubick said. "We use these games to find ourselves, to find what this team's identity is going to be."The return of Otto Porter could speed up that process. The forward sat out against Liberty because of concussion-like symptoms but coach John Thompson III said he could play against UCLA. Porter averaged 9.7 points as a freshman last season.UCLA has won both meetings with Georgetown, the most recent one coming in 2003. Monday's winner will play No. 1 Indiana or Georgia on Tuesday.