Shabazz Muhammad was the consensus top basketball recruit in the country for 2012, and UCLA pulled off a huge recruiting coup when they landed the 6’6″ shooting guard. But now Muhammad has been ruled ineligible for a preseason exhibition tour in China with the Bruins because of an ongoing NCAA probe.
The NCAA is reportedly investigating financial dealings between Muhammad’s family and certain friends. NCAA officials have spoken with Muhammad but not his family. UCLA made the decision to leave the talented freshman behind while the investigation is ongoing.
The investigation centers around whether Muhammad received any improper benefits that helped him pay for unofficial visits to schools. Those benefits would have likely come from Benjamin Lincoln, who is the brother of one of Muhammad’s high school coaches. Benjamin is the brother of Geoff Lincoln, an assistant at Bishop Gorman High School (in Las Vegas) where Muhammad played.
The NCAA is also looking into financial help given to Muhammad’s summer team by Ken Kavanagh, a New York-based financial planner. Kavanagh helped fund the Las Vegas-based Dream Vision, which was the team Muhammad played for. Kavanagh claims he is a longtime friend of the family.
To be clear, there is no indication that UCLA did anything improper and the school made the right move in having Muhammad sit out the trip to China. So far the Bruins have done everything right. That said, the NCAA did inform every team recruiting Muhammad of the investigation back in February, so the school may have been expecting this.