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UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad isn't carrying around as much weight

UCLA BASKETBALL

He sheds 10 of the 15 pounds he gained between high school and playing his first game for the Bruins on Nov. 19. His teammates notice he's faster, and he says he is showing his 'explosive ability.'

December 11, 2012|By Baxter Holmes
  • UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad celebrates after a victory over the Texas Longhorns, 65-63.
UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad celebrates after a victory over the Texas… (Scott Halleran / Getty Images )

Even high-profile college basketball players are not impervious to the notorious "Freshman 15."

UCLA swingman Shabazz Muhammad said he weighed about 215 pounds in high school, but had ballooned to about 230 by the time he played his first game for the Bruins, on Nov. 19 against Georgetown.

"I was really out of shape," Muhammad said Tuesday.

Not so much anymore.

Muhammad said he has shed about 10 pounds in the last week through diet and exercise.

His more sleek 6-foot-6 frame will be on public display when UCLA (6-3) plays host to Prairie View A&M (5-5) on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion.

"I'm really getting up and showing my explosive ability that I had all along," said Muhammad, who plans to lose five more pounds.

His teammates have noticed a difference. Muhammad used to be near the middle of the pack when the team was running sprints, but he's now out front, guard Jordan Adams said.

"If you ask me, I think he's back," freshman swingman Kyle Anderson said.

Muhammad said he fell out of shape because he wasn't eating as well as he did while under his parents' supervision. At UCLA, he's had to adjust — no more junk food, soda, juices. He's also spending more time on the treadmill.

Muhammad, who missed UCLA's first three games because of an NCAA rules violation, still appeared to be struggling with conditioning in UCLA's win against Texas last Saturday.

UCLA Coach Ben Howland has said he expects Muhammad to be in peak "game shape" by January.

When Muhammad is in top shape, Adams predicted, fans will see much more from the player rated as the top high school senior in the nation last year.

"You'll see the motor that doesn't stop and him just going out there and dominating his defender," Adams said.

Disappearing act

The capacity at renovated Pauley Pavilion is 13,800.

But since UCLA drew 13,513 for its Nov. 9 season opener against Indiana State, the home crowds have steadily shrunk, down to as low as 5,751 for UCLA's win against Cal State Northridge less than three weeks later.

"Coaches tell us, 'Don't worry about the crowds, because once you start winning they'll come back around,' " Adams said.

Um, 6-3 is a winning record.

"That's bad for UCLA," Adams said.

Vegas, anyone?

On Wednesday, fans can buy a general admission ticket for a session of the Pac-12 Conference men's basketball tournament in Las Vegas for $12.

That price is a one-day special and tickets can be bought from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. only at pac-12.com/tickets. Supply is limited.

The tournament will be played March 13-16 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

Twitter: @BaxterHolmes

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