Basketball: Muhammad's dad talks visit

October, 30, 2011
10/30/11
11:58
PM PT
ESPNU Top 100 No. 1 recruit Shabazz Muhammad officially visited USC this weekend, touring the campus, attending the Trojans' football game against Stanford and receiving a specifically-tailored marketing presentation by athletic director Pat Haden.

He came away pleased with what he saw.

"I think he has a huge interest in USC," his father, Ron Holmes, said in a telephone interview Sunday night upon returning to Las Vegas, where they live. "He loves the school."

Muhammad visited alongside Holmes and his younger brother Rashad Muhammad, a class of 2013 recruit. Holmes, a four-year basketball letterman at USC from 1981 to '85, has played a big role in Muhammad's continued interest in USC, but he says he doesn't have to convince his son to keep the Trojans in the running.

Haden met with Muhammad and his family Sunday before the Salute to Troy event at the Galen Center and presented him with a number of different ways the Trojans planned to showcase him at USC, beginning next November with the 2012-2013 season. Holmes characterized it as a "great marketing presentation."

"I think they're really trying to change the atmosphere in the basketball program," he said of Haden and USC head coach Kevin O'Neill.

A big part of O'Neill's pitch, Holmes said, is what he expects his team to be like during Muhammad's freshman season. The Trojans will have a ton of talent returning in the backcourt, and Muhammad would appear to fit right in at small forward.

"Well, he likes the guys that he brought in," Holmes said of O'Neill, mentioning Wake Forest transfers J.T. Terrell and Ari Stewart and Jio Fontan, out for the year because of a torn ACL but expected to return next season. "He thinks he has a formidable team."

Holmes said USC associate head coach Bob Cantu has been recruiting his son since he was a freshman in high school, when the Trojans' head coach was Tim Floyd. When O'Neill switched after Floyd resigned in the summer of 2009, Cantu continued to recruit him.

But the family has also developed a relationship with O'Neill over time.

"O'Neill, he's an intriguing guy," Holmes said. "I think he's a winner."

Holmes did mention that some of the things he hears nationally about the Trojans and their basketball program weren't all positive, including O'Neill's Pac-10 tournament suspension in March because of a verbal altercation with a University of Arizona booster.

But he raved about Haden and his presentation.

Recruits from the class of 2012 can begin to sign with colleges from Nov. 9-16 in the NCAA's designated early signing period, or they can wait until the regular period from April 11-May 16.

Holmes said Muhammad will be waiting until the regular period, a decision made after he couldn't start to come to a conclusion after the month-long in-home visit period.

"He was torn, because all of them were very, very good, very, very compelling." Holmes said of the visits many college coaches made to their Las Vegas home. "At times he likes this school, at times he likes another.

"He's just not sure yet."

The 6-foot-6, 215-pound Muhammad, a sweet-shooting left-handed swingman, is thought of as a potential top pick in the 2013 NBA draft if he were to leave school after his freshman season. His father said he was currently considering six schools.

They are believed to be Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, UNLV, USC and UCLA. The Trojans were the second school Muhammad has officially visited. He trekked to Kentucky for the school's opening-weekend festivities earlier this month.

Asked how they would go about narrowing down the six options, Holmes said it wasn't something he and his son would worry about too much.

'They pretty much narrow themselves down," Holmes said. "Some of the schools who we like, they just kinda drop themselves."

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