It’s not that Shabazz Muhammad is being difficult or “Hollywood” or even a primo prima donna, he’s merely saying that come springtime he wants the college that receives his signed scholarship to be able to pronounce the name that’s on it.
“I absolutely can’t stand when people in general pronounce my name wrong,” said Muhammad, the top player in the ESPNU 100. “But when coaches do it, it’s really surprising honestly. Throughout my recruitment it’s happened a lot, but a school that just keeps on doing it, they’re pretty much off the list.”
Most mistakenly pronounce Muhammad’s first name Shuh-BAZZ because of the way it’s spelled, but Shabazz is pronounced Shuh-BOZZ.
“I’m used to it because people mispronounce my name all the time,” said Muhammad, a senior swingman at Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas). “I understand because of the spelling of it so I’ll let it slide if it’s once or twice, but I’ll politely correct them if it goes past that. But coaches recruiting me, I’d think they would get it right. Seems like you’d want to get that right.”
Muhammad’s name pronunciation mishaps are similar to what North Carolina freshman guard P.J. Hairston said he went through when Duke recruited him in high school.
Hairston said that when Coach K and Co. would send him recruitment letters they’d write “T.J. Harrison,” which eventually made him sour on the Blue Devils.
Apparently, they learned from the alleged slip-up because Muhammad said Duke has never mispronounced his name. The same can’t be said for all of the schools – UCLA, Kentucky, Kansas, Texas A&M, Arizona and UNLV – on his list.
The two guilty parties?
Kentucky and Kansas.
“Coach (Bill) Self said it wrong when I went there at Kansas, and I think he realized it pretty quick and changed it to the right pronunciation,” Muhammad said. “Then one of the assistants at Kentucky said it wrong on a visit and Coach (John) Calipari said it the right way real quick. Then the assistant caught on after that.”
Adaptation is the key, and Muhammad appreciates it.
“Most definitely,” he said. “I mean how bad can a school want you if there calling you something you don’t answer to? You’ve got to get stuff like a name right.”
That’s the name of the game.