Most Wanted: All eyes on Muhammad at Beach Ball

When the 31st annual Beach Ball Classic tips off Tuesday, all eyes will be on Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) small forward Shabazz Muhammad.

And not just the fans in the stands, but also the college recruiters on press row, who will be salivating at the mouth to sign the 6-foot-6 consensus No. 1 player in the nation.

Muhammad, not only the top-ranked player but also one of the few major recruits yet to make a commitment to a college program, will likely draw some big-name college coaches to the Beach Ball.

They already know he can play, but now it’s a matter of staying on his short list. Major programs don’t want to risk missing out on Muhammad, so they will send assistants and perhaps even some of the top head coaches in college hoops to watch him play and, perhaps more importantly, make sure Shabazz knows their school is interested.

“It’s so hard,” Muhammad told ESPN last month about the recruiting process. “That’s why I didn’t make the early decision. There’s all these great programs and great traditions. I’m just going to make sure I take my time and really watch these teams.”

Muhammad’s “short list” is far from short. He is being recruited by every major program in the country and has taken official visits to Kentucky and Texas A&M and plans to do the same at Arizona, Duke, Kansas, UCLA and UNLV.

In a unique twist, not only is Muhammad being heavily recruited by big-time schools, but he is recruiting them. Rather than rush his decision and committing during the early signing period like most blue-chippers, Muhammad plans to use the extra time to work on his own game and see which system it might be best suited.

“Watching these college games is really going to be an important thing for me,” Muhammad said. “I think that’s a really big advantage for me, to be able to find the style of play that fits me and sit down with my family to talk about which aspects of my game will fit into the programs I like.”

So while all eyes will be on Muhammad at the Beach Ball, his eyes will also be on the front row to see which schools care enough to send representatives to Myrtle Beach during the holidays to watch him play.

This year’s Beach Ball not only features a who’s who in high school basketball, but the sidelines could see a who’s who in college coaching.

Photo courtesy of Bishop Gorman High

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