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

Philadelphia 24 FINAL
Washington 27
San Diego 38 FINAL
San Francisco 35
Minnesota 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 2:30 PM
Toronto
Memphis 3:30 PM
Cleveland
Boston 5:00 PM
Miami
Detroit 5:00 PM
Brooklyn
LA Lakers 5:00 PM
Sacramento
Philadelphia 5:00 PM
Orlando
Phoenix 5:00 PM
Washington
Indiana 6:00 PM
Minnesota
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Colorado 5:00 PM
Detroit
Dallas 5:00 PM
Edmonton
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Boston
Carolina 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Chicago
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
Winnipeg
Harvard 3 1st Half 13:53
Virginia 14
Maine 12:00 PM
Army
Ferris State 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
San Francisco 12:00 PM
Cleveland State
Oregon State 12:00 PM
Quinnipiac
Coastal Carolina 12:30 PM
Central Arkansas
Holy Cross 1:00 PM
Canisius
Southern Miss 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Western Carolina 1:00 PM
UNC-Asheville
Creighton 1:00 PM
North Texas
Maryland 1:00 PM
Oklahoma State
Cornell 1:00 PM
Radford
Vermont 1:00 PM
Saint Louis
Loyola-Maryland 1:00 PM
Stony Brook
Reinhardt 1:00 PM
Winthrop
Ark-Little Rock 1:00 PM
Green Bay
TX-Pan American 1:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha
Alabama State 1:05 PM
Evansville
FIU 1:30 PM
Hartford
Goshen 1:35 PM
Valparaiso
Bryant 2:00 PM
Denver
Austin Peay 2:00 PM
Lipscomb
Tennessee St 2:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
South Dakota 2:00 PM
Montana
ULM 2:00 PM
Samford
Coker 2:30 PM
South Carolina
USC 3:00 PM
Boston College
Northern Ariz 3:00 PM
Hampton
SD Christian 3:00 PM
San Diego
UC Irvine 3:30 PM
Bradley
Troy 3:30 PM
Nicholls
Seton Hall 5:00 PM
Georgia
Appalachian St 5:30 PM
Alabama
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Kent State
San Jose St 6:00 PM
Washington St
Alcorn State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Sacramento St 9:00 PM
Seattle
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 6 1st Half 16:14
Denver 8
St Marys-CA 6 1st Half 15:39
George Washington 4
TX-San Antonio 9 1st Half 14:09
Nicholls 4
Portland State 0 1st Half 19:01
Columbia 3
Tenn Tech 7 1st Half 12:15
Morgan State 15
SMU 5 1st Half 14:24
Auburn 9
Quinnipiac 8 1st Half 15:36
Hartford 5
Hofstra 2 1st Half 16:37
Boston College 2
Eastern Washington 9 1st Half 12:37
Georgia Southern 4
Rhode Island 12:00 PM
Bryant
Liberty 12:00 PM
(1) South Carolina
Fairleigh Dickinson 12:00 PM
Brown
Buffalo 12:00 PM
Long Island
Bucknell 12:00 PM
Mount St Marys
Stony Brook 12:00 PM
Wagner
FIU 12:00 PM
Wofford
Duquesne 12:00 PM
Providence
Maine 12:00 PM
William & Mary
Alabama State 12:00 PM
Samford
TX-Pan American 12:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
South Dakota St 12:00 PM
Marist
Saint Josephs 12:00 PM
(5) Notre Dame
Radford 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
(3) Texas 12:30 PM
(4) Texas A&M
South Florida 1:00 PM
Penn State
Sam Houston St 1:00 PM
TCU
Evansville 1:00 PM
IUPUI
(14) Maryland 1:00 PM
Coppin State
Mercer 1:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
NC A&T 1:00 PM
Chattanooga
Princeton 1:00 PM
Monmouth
Eastern Illinois 1:00 PM
Lehigh
Rider 1:00 PM
Binghamton
SC State 1:00 PM
Clemson
Fairfield 1:00 PM
Iowa State
Richmond 1:00 PM
Eastern Kentucky
Cleveland State 1:00 PM
Morehead St
Kent State 1:00 PM
Colgate
South Alabama 1:00 PM
UAB
Saint Peters 1:00 PM
Navy
Youngstown St 1:00 PM
Pittsburgh
NJIT 1:00 PM
Lafayette
Davidson 1:00 PM
Charlotte
Indiana State 1:30 PM
St Johns
Southern U 1:30 PM
Florida
Wright State 1:30 PM
Purdue
(19) Oklahoma St 2:00 PM
USC
Houston 2:00 PM
Texas Tech
Ark-Little Rock 2:00 PM
Tulsa
Dayton 2:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Northern Ariz 2:00 PM
New Mexico
UNC-Asheville 2:00 PM
USC Upstate
North Dakota 2:00 PM
South Dakota
Western Ill 2:00 PM
Marquette
Elon 2:00 PM
(6) North Carolina
Ball State 2:00 PM
Western Ky
(8) Kentucky 2:00 PM
(13) Duke
New Orleans 2:00 PM
Alabama
Chicago State 2:00 PM
Milwaukee
Bowling Green 2:00 PM
Bradley
Ill-Springfield 2:00 PM
SE Missouri St
Northern Ill 2:00 PM
Northern Iowa
(23) Iowa 2:05 PM
Drake
Central Michigan 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Western Carolina 2:30 PM
North Florida
Wyoming 3:00 PM
Colorado
Portland 3:00 PM
Boise State
Cal Poly 3:00 PM
Colorado State
No Dakota State 3:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Albany 3:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Oklahoma 3:00 PM
Arkansas
Idaho State 3:00 PM
Seattle
(18) Michigan State 3:00 PM
(19) Syracuse
Northwestern 3:30 PM
Arizona State
TX-Arlington 3:30 PM
North Texas
Fresno State 4:00 PM
Oregon
St Francis-PA 4:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
UNLV 4:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield
UCLA 4:00 PM
(2) Connecticut
(10) Louisville 4:00 PM
(24) California
Howard 5:00 PM
Virginia
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
(21) Miss State
Illinois-Chicago 8:30 PM
Old Dominion
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: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close