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Ben Howland says Shabazz Muhammad is physically "real close"

November 06, 2012|By Baxter Holmes
  • Shabazz Muhammad could play in UCLA's season opener if the NCAA clears him to play in the next few days.
Shabazz Muhammad could play in UCLA's season opener if the NCAA clears… (Damian Dovarganes / Associated…)

Could Shabazz Muhammad play in UCLA's season opener Friday against Indiana State?

The answer to that question still depends on the NCAA, which has yet to clear the touted freshman guard.

The NCAA did interview Muhammad's parents, Ron Holmes and Faye Muhammad, in Las Vegas late last week, according to people close to the situation who aren't authorized to speak publicly. 

So, with those key interviews done, if the NCAA were to clear him in the next few days, is Muhammad, who school officials say is dealing with a right shoulder strain, healthy enough to play Friday?

"There's a possibility, for sure," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said Tuesday. 

On Oct. 25, UCLA announced that Muhammad had suffered the injury in practice and was expected to miss two to four weeks. 

Yet during UCLA's "Pauley Madness" event Nov. 2 at Pauley Pavilion, Muhammad threw down a nasty windmill dunk during warmups that made it appear as though his shoulder was fine.

On Tuesday, Howland listed Muhammad as "day to day" and said he is "real close" to full strength.

"At the end of practice he was running with our team and he's able to shoot now," Howland said.

A timeline for when the NCAA may rule on Muhammad's case, which has lasted for more than a year, is unclear.

Still, don't be surprised if that ruling comes in the next few days and Muhammad is in uniform Friday.

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