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April 16, 2013UCLA forward Shabazz Muhammad finally made it official Tuesday morning: He's foregoing his final three years of college eligibility and will enter the NBA Draft in June.
"I am so thankful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play at UCLA and will always be proud to be a Bruin," Muhammad said in a statement. "From a young age, I have dreamed of playing in the NBA, and I believe that this is the right time for me to move to the next level."
The move comes as no surprise. After Muhammad's final game in Pauley Pavilion a few weeks ago, former head coach Ben Howland said he was definitely leaving.
Muhammad, though, played coy all the way up until 9 a.m. Tuesday.
"I have had an unbelievable experience at UCLA and am eternally grateful to my teammates, my coaches and the program's support staff for helping me become a better person and basketball player during my time in Westwood," Muhammad said. "It has been an honor and a privilege to play for coach Ben Howland."
Muhammad is expected to be a top 10 pick in the draft, slated to go No. 7 to the Sacramento Kings, ESPN NBA Draft guru Chad Ford writes. Although it's still debatable just how good of a pro he will be when he gets to the league.
Questions marred Muhammad's freshman year at UCLA, starting with his NCAA investigation, his birth certificate scandal, and then his inability to do much on the court other than score.
But in a weak draft class, Muhammad will still likely be a lottery pick - something every college basketball player strives for.
Muhammad appears to be the only underclassman Steve Alford's new team will lose. Kyle Anderson's father told reporters last month that he would for sure be coming back. Tony Parker announced on Twitter that he would return as well. The rest, they all said at Alford's introductory press conference that they would be back, too.
The NBA Draft begins on June 27 in New York City.