Introducing the Wolves' Plan B: Shabazz Muhammad

  • Article by: KELLY PARSONS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 28, 2013 - 11:52 PM

Shabazz Muhammad wasn’t the Wolves’ target, but the UCLA star is determined to validate his worth.

 

As a smiling Shabazz Muhammad stood on the Target Center stage Friday clutching his No. 0 Timberwolves jersey — a number he selected because few others in the NBA wear it — the guy who thrives on being the center of attention appeared to be relishing every minute of his first full day as a professional.

Thought by many to be the best player in the nation coming out of Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High School, Muhammad was sought by just about every premier college basketball program before deciding to play at UCLA.

One year later, there’s a sense from Timberwolves fans that Muhammad — and the potential baggage that comes with him — might not be as warmly welcomed.

Flip Saunders, the Wolves president of basketball operations, refuted claims that he was disappointed in how the Timberwolves fared in Thursday night’s draft, when they traded the ninth overall pick to the Utah Jazz and selected Muhammad 14th overall. Still, Saunders couldn’t shy away from the fact that selecting Muhammad wasn’t exactly part of the initial plan.

“Our guys at No. 9 were off the board. We thought one of them would be there,” Saunders said Thursday after the first round of the NBA draft. “You’ve got to own up to the picks you make, and I feel at that pick, that was the best pick we could make.”

Muhammad comes to Minnesota with the reputation of being a selfish player, something he said he plans to work on as he transitions from college to the NBA. The 6-6 guard/forward had only 27 assists in 32 games with the UCLA, and he was vilified online after he seemed to pout when teammate Larry Drew took, and made, a game-winning shot in a 59-57 victory over Washington in early February.

To Ben Howland, who coached UCLA for 10 seasons before being fired in March, Muhammad’s desire to be the best is a positive, making his former player a great fit for the Wolves, he said.

“The thing I love about him most is his game rises up when the lights go on,” Howland said. “He loves to win and he hates to lose. Losing kills him, whether it’s in practice, a drill, whatever it is. And that’s what you want. You want guys that are competitive and very driven.”

Muhammad, whose path to basketball stardom was essentially mapped out by his father, Ronald Holmes, from a young age, sat out of his first three games as a Bruin while the NCAA investigated a possible rules violation.

The NCAA eventually determined that Muhammad had received unallowed travel expenses during unofficial visits in his recruitment process, but Muhammad’s eligibility was reinstated after an appeal from UCLA. Later in the season, the Los Angeles Times discovered that Muhammad, said to be 19, was actually 20.

With Holmes at the center of much of the drama that surrounded his son, Muhammad said he sat his father down a month ago and told him to stay out of his basketball career. It was a tough thing to do, Muhammad conceded, but something he felt was necessary as he prepared to take the next step.

“There were some slip-ups with him. We definitely talked about that,” Muhammad said Friday. “My dad’s a great guy, but with basketball, we don’t really talk about it. He’s just a dad helping me out with life now.”

Despite the controversy, Muhammad led UCLA in scoring last season, averaging almost 18 points per game, and led the Bruins to a Pacific-12 title.

Before the NBA draft, Muhammad told reporters he thought he was the best player in this year’s draft class. On Friday, despite having been picked 14th overall the day before, Muhammad made it clear his opinion hadn’t changed.

“Oh yeah, I definitely think [so],” said Muhammad, without hesitation. “Everybody said I was the steal of the draft. But you can’t just say that, you’ve got to go out and work.”

Muhammad is well aware that his selection by the Wolves wasn’t popular with fans. But he isn’t lacking in confidence. Because of that, he’s sure that the sentiments will soon change.

“If I’m staying in the gym and I’m working and we’re winning games, that’s how you please the fans,” Muhammad said. “I love changing people’s opinions.”



 

  • related content

  • Gorgui Dieng is ready for NBA, coach says

    Saturday June 29, 2013

    The Wolves acquired Dieng — the defensive anchor of Louisville’s NCAA championship team last April — with the second of two first-round picks received in a draft-night trade with Utah.

  • Video: SidCast: Wolves should have kept Trey Burke

    Friday June 28, 2013

    Sid talks about the NBA draft and what he thinks about the Minnesota Timberwolves' draft picks. He also reminisces...

  • Wolves President Flip Saunders, left, formally presented the team’s 2013 first-round picks, Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng, on Friday at Target Center.

  • Shabazz Muhammad, with Wolves President Flip Saunders and fellow first-rounder Gorgui Dieng, tried to distinguish himself by taking No. 0.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Detroit 37 3rd Qtr
Philadelphia 48
Portland 44 2nd Qtr 0:01
Cleveland 54
Sacramento 22 2nd Qtr
Toronto 26
Boston 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Dallas 7:00 PM
Houston
Denver 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Brooklyn 7:00 PM
Atlanta
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
New York
Charlotte 7:30 PM
San Antonio
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Utah
Washington 9:30 PM
Phoenix
Toronto 0 1st Prd 7:00
New Jersey 0
Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Washington
Chicago 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Temple 37 2nd Half
UCF 18
Winthrop 35 2nd Half
Coastal Carolina 34
Lafayette 25 2nd Half
Colgate 32
Northeastern 33 2nd Half 16:50
Drexel 30
Wake Forest 33 2nd Half
Florida State 27
Rhode Island 31 2nd Half
Fordham 32
Delaware 42 2nd Half 17:12
James Madison 50
South Carolina 28 2nd Half
LSU 29
New Hampshire 23 2nd Half
Maine 20
Seton Hall 42 2nd Half 17:39
Marquette 30
Binghamton 30 2nd Half
UMBC 24
American Univ 34 2nd Half
Navy 37
Elon 23 2nd Half
UNC-Wilmington 47
Wright State 33 2nd Half 20:00
Oakland 28
Minnesota 23 2nd Half 20:00
Penn State 33
Duquesne 27 2nd Half
Richmond 49
SMU 32 2nd Half 18:37
South Florida 26
Hartford 28 2nd Half 18:55
Stony Brook 27
Albany 25 2nd Half
Vermont 17
Hofstra 34 2nd Half
William & Mary 54
UNC-Asheville 37 2nd Half
Longwood 31
Radford 24 1st Half 9:30
Char Southern 14
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 24 1st Half 5:27
Notre Dame 28
Texas Tech 11 1st Half 4:49
Oklahoma 22
Oregon State 4 1st Half 18:34
Arizona State 0
Morehead State 7:00 PM
Austin Peay
Drake 7:00 PM
Bradley
Lehigh 7:00 PM
Bucknell
Rice 7:00 PM
Houston
Missouri State 7:00 PM
Illinois State
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
Wichita State
Nebraska Omaha 7:00 PM
South Dakota St
Northern Iowa 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
Louisville 8:00 PM
Boston College
St Johns 8:00 PM
Creighton
East Carolina 8:00 PM
Memphis
Georgia Tech 8:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Miss State 8:00 PM
Ole Miss
Clemson 8:00 PM
NC State
Indiana 8:00 PM
Purdue
Kansas 8:00 PM
TCU
Oregon 9:00 PM
Arizona
Air Force 9:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 10:00 PM
Washington
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
UMBC 34 2nd Half 19:17
Binghamton 31
Akron 23 2nd Half 19:34
Ohio U 32
Ball State 44 2nd Half 20:00
Miami-Ohio 17
Memphis 31 2nd Half 17:52
Cincinnati 22
East Carolina 18 2nd Half
(2) Connecticut 47
Murray State 31 2nd Half 20:00
Eastern Illinois 33
Kent State 26 2nd Half 20:00
Central Michigan 35
UT Martin 44 2nd Half 16:08
Tennessee St 32
Eastern Michigan 33 2nd Half
Western Mich 42
Bucknell 35 2nd Half 19:18
Lehigh 34
Indiana 28 2nd Half 19:18
Michigan State 40
Colgate 44 2nd Half 18:02
Lafayette 24
Fordham 39 2nd Half 17:01
Davidson 28
Duquesne 32 2nd Half
St Bonaventure 24
George Mason 28 2nd Half
VA Commonwealth 34
Detroit 27 2nd Half 15:52
Youngstown St 35
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Oklahoma St 7:00 PM
Kansas State
West Virginia 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
Denver 7:00 PM
South Dakota
Northwestern St 7:00 PM
Central Arkansas
Kansas 7:00 PM
Iowa State
Bowling Green 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Penn State 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Austin Peay 0 1st Half 19:04
SIU-Edwardsville 5
San Jose St 8:00 PM
Air Force
Boise State 8:00 PM
Colorado State
Utah State 8:00 PM
Wyoming
San Diego State 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Nevada 9:00 PM
UNLV
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local team is currently the biggest disappointment?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close