The recruiting battle for Shabazz Muhammad has dragged on for months and has featured many turns while the electric 6'6 guard decides which school he will attend next fall. While just about every program in the nation has tried to lure Muhammad to their town, he seems to have narrowed his list down to these schools: Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, UNLV and USC.
For as talented as Muhammad is, he and his father, Ron Holmes, who is very involved in his son's recruitment, may be in some trouble next season. Could the nation's No. 1 player be ruled ineligible? The NCAA is telling programs to tread carefully with Muhammad, according to this latest update from Jeff Goodman and Gary Parrish of CBS Sports.
The NCAA has contacted each school recruiting the nation's top-ranked high school basketball prospect, Shabazz Muhammad, and made them aware of financial dealings that could compromise Muhammad's amateur status, multiple sources have told CBSSports.com.
The sources told CBSSports.com that the NCAA is specifically interested in connections between Muhammad's family and financial advisers Benjamin Lincoln and Ken Kavanagh. Lincoln is a North Carolina-based financial planner whose brother, Geoff Lincoln, is an assistant coach for Muhammad's high school team in Las Vegas. Kavanagh is a New York-based financial planner.
Sources told CBSSports.com the NCAA is skeptical that these relationships -- and the financial assistance they've provided Muhammad's summer team and family -- are legitimately unrelated to Muhammad's athletic ability, which could in turn compromise Muhammad's amateur status. That's among the reasons the NCAA contacted schools still pursuing Muhammad and essentially informed them that though they are free to continue recruiting the 6-foot-5 wing, they should understand that there are potential amateurism issues.
If these questions about a potential advisor and money issues were not enough, check this little tidbit out:
Another interesting twist to Muhammad's recruitment is the perceived role of Adidas.
Industry sources have claimed for more than a year that Muhammad would almost certainly land at UCLA because Adidas is heavily invested in Muhammad through its sponsorship of Dream Vision, and because the Bruins are one of the shoe company's flagship programs. Some have even suggested Holmes is on payroll with Adidas, but he emphatically denied that to CBSSports.com. But Holmes did acknowledge that his daughter, Asia Muhammad, has a contract with Adidas. She's a professional tennis player ranked 386th in the world.
"Now you can quote me on this," Holmes said. "What I have to say is that [Adidas] has never once come at me about 'Bazz going to an Adidas school. They'll say if he goes to an Adidas school like UCLA or Kansas that means they'll get to see him more because [they] go and watch those games. But they've never come at me like that. Adidas has never done anything they weren't supposed to do."
This situation sure seems like a complete and total mess and you have to start wondering just when these college programs are going to start backing off Shabazz (and his father) with these allegations coming in. Yes, he is an incredibly talented player, but is he worth the headache (and potential legal issues) with the looming ineligibility questions on the horizon?
Maybe I'll be wrong and Muhammad will go on to win the Naismith next season with one of these schools, but I wouldn't bet on it.