UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad will leave school early and enter the NBA Draft in June, according to a press release posted to the school's website on Tuesday.
Muhammad, 20, said it has been a dream from a young age to play in the NBA and believes that now is the right time to take his career to the next level. He thanked Ben Howland, who was let go as head coach of the team after this season, and called the experience to play for UCLA a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," according to the press release:
"I am so thankful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play at UCLA and will always be proud to be a Bruin. 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. [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. It has been an honor and a privilege to play for coach Ben Howland."
As a freshman, the left-handed Muhammad led the Bruins with 17.9 points per game last season, earning first-team All-Pac-12 Conference honors as well as Pac-12 Co-Freshman of the Year and was one of eight finalists for the Freshman of the Year award. According to NBA Draft blog DraftExpress.com, the 6'6", 220 pound swingman is projected to go No. 9 in the Draft this summer.