Coach assumes Muhammad leaving

Updated: April 11, 2013, 8:11 PM ET
By Peter Yoon | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- While it's a near certainty that Shabazz Muhammad will enter the NBA draft this year, the UCLA freshman has yet to make a formal announcement.

New UCLA coach Steve Alford gave a pretty good indication that Muhammad is on his way out when he acknowledged Thursday that despite several exchanged phone messages, he has not had any verbal communication with Muhammad or his family since taking over at UCLA on March 30.

"I have not spoken to him," Alford said. "I've seen everybody else and spoken to everybody else. I've placed some phone calls but I have not been able to touch base with him."

Muhammad, a 6-foot-6 forward who led UCLA in scoring with 17.9 points, is enrolled in school at UCLA this quarter, according to a school spokesperson, and he tweeted on April 6 that he was heading to Los Angeles from his home in Las Vegas. It is unclear if he is attending the classes in which he is enrolled, but he did not attend the first offseason workout at UCLA on Wednesday..

Alford said six scholarship players were there: Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson, Tony Parker, Norman Powell, David Wear and Travis Wear. Adams was unable to participate because he is still recovering from a broken foot.

Ben Howland, before he was fired, said it was a foregone conclusion in his mind that Muhammad would leave for the NBA. Alford assumed the same, especially considering the lack of communication from Muhammad.

"I'm assuming that it's pretty clear," Alford said. "All projections have him as a lottery pick, so I assume he's going."

A request to speak with Muhammad was not granted.

Under NBA rules, college players have until April 28 to enter the NBA draft and the NBA releases a list of those who have entered on May 2. The NCAA has a rule stating that players who have declared themselves early entrants will lose their NCAA eligibility if they don't withdraw from the early-entry pool by April 16.

That NCAA rule carries little weight, though. As long as Muhammad is not on the May 2 list and does not hire an agent, he would maintain his college eligibility, so there is no urgency for him to make an announcement before April 28.

UCLA, however, would like to have an official decision by April 19, the final day for enrolled students to drop classes. Should Muhammad leave school without dropping classes, he would receive failing grades and negatively impact the team's academic progress rate (APR). Because of that, the school will almost certainly push for Muhammad to drop his classes by next Friday if he intends to leave school.

Peter Yoon

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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