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12towatchin2012

Shabazz Muhammad, prep hoops star

12 to watch in 2012

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Shabazz Muhammad has narrowed his college choices down to Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA … and UNLV.
Photo: Sam Morris
Ray Brewer

A day rarely passes without someone asking Bishop Gorman senior Shabazz Muhammad about his college basketball plans.

The 6-foot-6 forward is more than the best high school player ever to lace up his Nikes in the Las Vegas Valley. Widely ranked as the nation’s No. 1 recruiting prospect in the class of 2012, Muhammad’s popularity continues to reach new heights nationally. He’s been compared to LeBron James, has appeared on the cover of Slam magazine, fields autograph requests after high school games and frequently draws standing-room-only crowds when playing on the road.

Yes, he’s that good.

He recently broke C.J. Watson’s all-time scoring mark at Gorman with 1,640 career points. Watson plays for the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. It’s only a matter of time before Muhammad is also getting paid to play professionally.

But first, there’s the decision.

Muhammad could go from local legend to hometown hero. UNLV is among his final college choices, along with Arizona, Kansas, Duke, Kentucky and UCLA. And when Muhammad says he’s giving UNLV serious consideration, he sounds like he means it. He’s intrigued by the Rebels’ up-tempo style and has a great relationship with first-year UNLV coach Dave Rice, whose brother, Grant, happens to be Muhammad’s coach at Gorman.

Rebel fans have become obsessed in their efforts to keep the prospect home. One even said he’d be willing to name his unborn child Shabazz. The fans coordinate on social media to attend his games, chanting “Hometown hero” when he touches the ball.

Las Vegas might never see anything like this again.

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