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Thursday, March 29, 2012
Basketball: USC officially out on Muhammad

By Pedro Moura

ESPNU No. 2 recruit Shabazz Muhammad has officially ruled out USC as his college choice, a school source told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Thursday.

He told reporters at the McDonald's All-American Game in Chicago on Wednesday that he had narrowed his options down to a final three of Kentucky, UCLA and Duke, in no particular order.

Most observers believed Muhammad had eliminated the Trojans from his top schools some time ago, but the Trojans continued to recruit him until as recently as earlier this week. He never officially visited USC but came to campus for unofficial visits multiple times during the recruiting process, once even sitting for a presentation from athletic director Pat Haden on how he could maximize his marketing potential going to school in Los Angeles.

His father, Ron Holmes, played for USC in the 1980's and was one reason the highly-ranked left-handed scorer was considering the Trojans.

Of course, the NCAA is investigating Muhammad for potential eligibility issues relating to who paid for his many unofficial visits across the country. A high-ranking athletic department source told ESPNLosAngeles.com earlier this month that the school was operating as if it was a possibility he would miss a limited number of games due to violations, not an entire season.

USC still has one available scholarship to give out for the Class of 2012. According to a source, the Trojans are now pursuing potential one-year transfers Renaldo Woolridge (Tennessee) and Alex Oriakhi (UConn) to fill that spot.

Woolridge is an L.A. native who was granted a fifth year for a medical hardship by the NCAA. Oriakhi, who is a very hot commodity on the transfer market, is able to move to any non-SEC school for his senior season because UConn is ineligible to compete in next year's NCAA Tournament.

Another possibility is Arizona Western J.C. forward Renan Lenz, who is scheduled to visit USC next weekend.