SPRINGFIELD, MA – Shabazz Muhammad is a physicaly gifted, 6’6″ left-handed junior guard from Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman HS, where he has led the Gaels to back-to-back Nevada State Championships. Yesterday, he faced his toughest competition of the season in Springfield, Massachusetts at the tenth annual Hoop Hall Classic, as he squared off against 6’7″ small forward Mike Gilchrist, a future Kentucky Wildcat, and the St. Patrick’s Celtics of New Jersey.
Muhammad faced constant ball pressure from 6’3″ Dexter Gordon, a very promising Western Kentucky signee, with nearly automatic double-teams every time he touched the ball from the Celtics. Shabazz struggled in the first half (2 for 7 shooting) against their pressure and three quick fouls helped limit him to an abnormally low five points in the first half, but halftime adjustments, including refocusing his mind, utilizing his size and strength advantage over their respective guards, and inflicting his athleticism and aggression on their decision to guard him closely, caused the southpaw to erupt for twenty-three second half points and ignite a Gaels comeback that ultimately was too late. The New Jersey Catholic school team, this year’s likely mythical national champion, prevailed 79-63 in front of a national audience on ESPNU and a packed crowd at the birthplace of basketball.
Following the game, Shabazz spoke with Blue Devil Nation about his game against St. Patrick’s, what he’s looking for in a college program, his immediate impressions from Saturday’s trip to Duke University for their game against Virginia, Quinn Cook, and why three schools stand out right now to him.
Let’s start off with tonight’s matchup with Saint Patrick’s. Can you talk about the game in general and the defenses that they threw at you?
Sure, well, first of all, obviously, we played a great team in St. Pat’s.
Is this the best team you’ve seen so far this year?
Yes, definitely, this is the best and I’d have to say by far too. As good an intensity as Saint Pat’s brought to the game, we tried to match it and, at first, we just didn’t. In the first half, they just beat us on the boards and outmatched us. We’ve just got to get back to work quickly. We can’t accept that.
What second-half adjustments did you make personally? It seemed as though you were far more aggressive against their pressure after the half and you played with, well, more poised aggression. What, if anything, did you see differently?
Yeah, in the first half, I was just kind of pressing, but then I tried to slow the game down in the second half mentally. I tried to wait out my options in the second half and also get my teammates more involved.
Can you talk about the recent visits you’ve taken?
Yeah, I just took a visit to Duke. It was a nice experience for me, you know
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