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UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad year older than originally thought

Mar 22, 2013, 12:47 PM EDT

Shabazz Muhammad AP

On the day of UCLA’s NCAA tournament opener against 11-seed Minnesota in Austin an interesting story on Ron Holmes, the father of freshman wing Shabazz Muhammad, was published in the Los Angeles Times.

According to Ken Bensinger’s story the father of the Pac-12 Co-Freshman of the Year, initially stated that Muhammad was 19 and born in Nevada only to admit that he was actually 20 years old and born in California.

How big of a deal is the age? Not sure the age itself is a huge deal, given the popularity of decisions such as reclassifying and going to prep school for a year. But there is the issue of physical maturity, as the extra year can give an athlete an edge over his new classmates.

What makes this particular situation intriguing is what Holmes says via text after admitting to his son being a year older than originally disclosed.

Asked about the discrepancy, Holmes insisted his son was 19 and born in Nevada. “It must be a mistake,” he said.

Several minutes later, he changed his account, saying that his son is, in fact, 20 and was born in Long Beach.

Holmes expressed concern about disclosure of his son’s true age and his own criminal record and questioned whether either was newsworthy. He followed up with a text message.

“Bazz is going to blow up in the NBA lets team up and blow this thing up!!!” Holmes wrote to this reporter. “I’m going to need a publicist anyway why shouldn’t it be you. We can do some big things together.”

The story focuses on the path the family has taken to reach this point, which includes details on how unofficial visits were paid for, with the goal being to make sure Muhammad lands in the NBA.

There’s the question of whether or not the NCAA had all of the information (re: unofficial visits) when determining the outcome of Muhammad’s case, which essentially fell apart due to the boasts of the boyfriend of a former NCAA investigator. If not, could this be an eligibility issue the governing body chooses to revisit?

To say the least the story makes for interesting reading (and conversation) on the day that UCLA will play its biggest game of the season to date. And with the number of young contributors that Ben Howland has to rely on, this is a distraction the Bruins certainly don’t need.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

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