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UCLA BASKETBALL

Shabazz Muhammad won't travel to China with UCLA

Freshman will not participate in Bruins' exhibition games next week in Beijing and Shanghai while awaiting the results of an NCAA investigation into whether he received improper benefits.

August 15, 2012|By David Wharton
  • UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad will not travel with the team on its three-game exhibition tour to China next week.
UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad will not travel with the team on its three-game… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

An NCAA investigation of Shabazz Muhammad will not be completed in time for the UCLA freshman to travel with the team for a series of exhibition games in China next week.

The university confirmed Wednesday that he will remain behind.

The 6-foot-6 swingman is the jewel of UCLA's highly touted freshman class.

The NCAA is trying to determine whether Muhammad received improper benefits from the brother of an assistant coach at his high school or from a financial planner who helped fund a summer team on which he played.

Scrutiny of top-level athletes has been a hot topic in the years since the NCAA found that USC tailback Reggie Bush and his family received cash and gifts from two would-be sports marketers in San Diego.

"The real issue here is, if you have high-profile players, your enforcement staff has to monitor those students at a higher level," the late Paul Dee, former chairman of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions, said at the time. "High-profile players demand high-profile compliance."

Ironically, the NCAA would later launch an investigation of football players at Miami, where Dee had been athletic director.

UCLA officials declined to comment further on Muhammad's case. The player has said that he expects to be cleared.

The Bruins will leave for China on Aug. 22. Over the ensuing week, they will play against two university teams and one professional team, the Shanghai Sharks, as part of a weeklong sports festival in Beijing and Shanghai.

The team's other top freshmen — Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker — are expected to make their debuts in those games.

david.wharton@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATimesWharton

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