For his much-hyped and delayed college debut, surely Shabazz Muhammad would soar above the floor and throw down 30 or 40 points, give or take a bucket or few, leading the revived UCLA Bruins to a brutal beatdown of the Georgetown Hoyas at the Legends Classic on Monday night in Brooklyn. Right?
It didn't quite work out that way. John Thompson III's Hoyas knocked off the 13th-ranked Bruins 78-70 as Muhammad, the No. 1 overall player in this year's signee class, scored 15 points in his first appearance in a college game as nearly 50 NBA executives watched at the Barclays Center.
Muhammad scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half. He made five of 10 shots in 25 minutes of playing time after first entering the game with 14:12 left in the first half.
The 6-foot-6 swingman from Las Vegas was originally rule ineligible, but UCLA won an appeal and Muhammad was reinstated after missing the Bruins first three games and repaying $1,600 he was deemed to have received outside NCAA rules.
It wasn't just the three-game layoff that has curtailed Muhammad's development. He suffered a high ankle sprain in summer workouts, then incurred a shoulder strain early in fall practice. His conditioning appeared to be lacking, as you might expect from two different layoffs.
Muhammad said afterward that he was sorry the Bruins would not get a chance to play No. 1 Indiana in tonight's championship game, but admitted his young team isn't probably ready for the Hoosiers.
Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski talked to an NBA executive who agreed, saying “Indiana would have put Oladipo on him and I'm not sure (Muhammad) is ready for that yet.”