Dec 12, 2012, 9:01 AM EDT
Amidst the mess that became of Shabazz Muhammad’s NCAA eligibility ordeal earlier this season, one fact was lost. In addition to fighting his way toward being cleared, the 6-6 freshman was battling back from a shoulder injury that had sidelined him since late October.
Unable to work out, Muhammad did not look to be in game shape when he made his debut for UCLA in Brooklyn on Oct. 19, having added some pounds and without the explosiveness that he was lauded for in high school.
That’s all beginning to change, according to the Los Angeles Times.
According to the paper, Muhammad’s weight had ballooned to 230 pounds this season, up from his high school weight of 215.
“I was really out of shape,” Muhammad told the Times. He has since lost 10 pounds and plans to lose five more.
“I’m really getting up and showing my explosive ability that I had all along,” he said.
After missing the first three games of the season while the NCAA reviewed his eligibility status, Muhammad has worked to become UCLA’s second-leading scorer, behind fellow freshman Jordan Adams.
He has scored in double digits in all six games he has seen minutes, including a career-high 21 points against Georgia in the Bruins’ second game in Brooklyn in October.
Coach Ben Howland says he expects Muhammad to reach “peak game shape” by January, according to the paper, which would be just in time for the start of Pac-12 play.
The Bruins take on Prarie View A&M on Saturday.
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If the Red Storm are to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001, their guards will have to be as good as they say they are.
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