One On One With Shabazz

A few days removed from the Elite 24 event in California, Scout.com's top overall prospect in the class of 2012 sat down with TDD to provide the latest.

TDD: How was the Elite 24 experience? What's it like going against the best 23 players in the country?

Shabazz Muhammad: It's probably the best competition you're going to see top to bottom, but everybody had fun. It was good to get a lot of good experience playing against those guys.

What's the off the court schedule like?

It's really laid back. We stayed in a really nice hotel that had a hangout lounge setup for the players. It had video games and bunch of stuff to have fun. We also did some community service by doing some basketball camps with some kids from the area, we taught them shooting techniques, ball-handling, it was a lot of fun.

Usually video games get pretty competitive. Was that the case with you?

Yeah, I didn't really play all that much. Video games really aren't my thing. I just liked watching the other guys play, and there was some really good players going at it.

Who did you hang out with the most during the event?

I was spending a lot of time with my friend Kyle Anderson, he's one of my really good friends that was there, so we were hanging out a lot.

You and Kyle took a recent visit to UCLA recently. How did the visit go?

Kyle and I have been friends for awhile, he's a good guy and we had a good time on campus. We toured the campus, we saw the gym, and we got a chance to talk with Coach Holland too.

Is the experience different for you going through a gym like Pauley Pavilion versus what you've experienced at places like Kansas and Duke who also have famous arenas?

Yeah, Pauley was definitely nice and spread out. Every arena is different and has their own features; they are all interesting in their own way.

How is it comparing Pauley Pavilion with no fans and no game going on to what you've experienced going to games at Duke and Kansas and other schools?

You are right. I haven't seen a game yet in Pauley Pavilion so I just got to look at how the court is and how the arena is structured, and Coach Holland was telling me what it was like to play in the gym. I'm definitely looking forward to going back and seeing a game with everybody there and the team playing.

Now that the season is coming up in a few months and you are getting closer to a decision, how much comparing are you going to do to how teams played last season to how they are going to play this year?

Yes sir, that is something I'm watching. I want to see the teams and how they play this year because I am going to be going to college player next year. I am looking at what teams did last season and how they played to compare to this year.

What goes into a comparison between two seasons for you?

I look a lot at the positions and what guys are doing at my positions. I look to see if they run their wings off ball screens or do they pitch ahead to them when they get out and run. I also look at a team's point guards and see what they are doing. Do they get out in transition and hold onto the ball, or do they get it ahead to their teammates who are running the floor.

UCLA is a school that didn't run a lot last season. Is that something that you are looking at, or is it not as big a deal?

Well, they didn't run a whole lot last season, but they have indicated to me that they are going to be trying to get out and run some more this season with the guys they have.

Another school who seemed to go through a perception change last year was Duke with Kyrie Irving. Is that perception something you were aware of and did you feel the same way?

Yes, that is something that I have heard in the past with Duke and their style, but I feel like with Kyrie last season and this year watching them in China that they are really different. You can see the freedom is there for their players, and watching them in China, you could see them running quite a bit.

You've been quoted as saying you are going to wait until the Spring to decide. As the number one guy in the class how are you handling all of the attention that comes with the high ranking and longer time table?

Yeah, I think I'm trying to handle it well and trying to make the right decision for me. It's really important to me to have a good feel for the schools because I think that once you go to college, you should be committed. I don't intend to transfer after I go to school so I want to take my time and choose the right school.

That seems like the answer of a player who isn't thinking much about being one and done. Are you thinking about how long you're going to be in school?

I think [the length of stay in college] a feel thing, I want to make sure that I go to a school where I have a real shot at winning and winning a National Championship.

Your father and you have talked a lot about developing your "brand". Can you elaborate on what that means?

I think a lot of it has to do with how I act on and off the court. It's all about treating people right and making sure that when I talk with somebody they feel good about themselves.

In the NBA, you hear about guys like Kobe and LeBron and other major players having their own brand as professionals, do you look at the same things that they do when trying to develop yours?

Definitely. I mean, I see what those guys are doing but I don't look at how to build my brand right now as an NBA brand because I'm not in the NBA, I'm just trying to do the right things in my own life as I progress into college.

Do any of the schools recruiting talk to you about their brand and how your brand could mesh?

Duke is for sure a school that has talked with me about their brand. I mean, you see how the guys got to go to China and Dubai this summer and were on ESPN. They always seem to be on TV, and they send guys to the NBA at my position. That is for sure something they have mentioned to me before. Just what the Duke brand is all about and what it does for players who come through their program.

How do you feel your brand fits into the Duke brand?

I think it'd be great to be honest, everybody has great respect for them as a team and a program and they do a lot of things that are really great.

You mentioned Duke in China and Dubai. What were you watching for in those game?

I was watching a lot how they were moving on the court. They were really getting out and running and guys were getting shots. Austin Rivers did some really good things and they seemed to play pretty well.

You mentioned looking at how schools utilize guys who play your position previously. What were your thoughts on how Alex Murphy and Mike Gbinije played?

I thought they played really good and you can tell with Alex, that even though he's a young freshman on the team, guys are looking out for him and supporting him and he was able to make some plays to help the team win.

How do you view the chance to play with other high major wings? Is a deep roster something that gives you pause?

Not really, because for me, I want to play with the best wings possible. Sometimes coaches will tell me that if I commit to them that they won't recruit any other wings, but that stuff doesn't matter to me too much because I figure when we all get to college, the best are going to play and there's going to some good competition at every spot no matter where I go.

Visit season is upon high school seniors now, where are you with that process?

Well, I don't have any officials scheduled as of yet but there are some schools that I do like that I would like to look at visiting.

Like who?

Definitely Duke, UCLA, Kentucky, Kansas, Texas A&M, Memphis, there's a lot.

That's a lot more than the five officials that you are allowed to take. Do you have schools that are requesting to be one of those visits you are allowed to officially visit?

Well, schools just usually ask me when it would be appropriate for me to come take a visit, but I really want to see the team practice as a part of my visit and I want to see them play in a game if I can.

So does that mean you are not looking to take any officials in September since teams aren't practicing then and are not playing games?

Oh no, I didn't say that. I do have some schools in mind that I might try and visit in September, I just haven't firmed up which schools those are as of yet.

What makes seeing practice and a game so important for you in your estimation?

Some of the biggest things to me in my decision are the relationship with the coach and what kind of style of play they run. With that in mind, I want to see both practices and games to see how the coaching staff coaches their guys and how they play in front of their fans.


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