This weekend at Bishop Verot High School in Ft. Myers, Florida, one of the most prestigious high school basketball tournaments is being held. Known as the City of Palms Classic, high schools and prep schools from around the country flock to this tournament in hopes of gaining a few key victories and staying in the national spotlight. It is also an opportunity for some individuals to put on their best performances in front of college coaches and scouts. Billy Donovan and Steve Lavin were a few coaches to have been spotted here so far this year.
While I had the opportunity to be here, I spoke with Shabazz Muhammad, the top overall prospect in the class of 2012 (Scout, Rivals). His Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, NV) squad survived a scare from Blanche Ely (Pompano Beach, FL) in the first round with a 58-57 win to move to 3-0 on the season. He had 27 points in his first game, and although he and his team looked a bit rough, he did what he needed to help pull out an important win.
AS: I understand your team is in the Top 10 this season; what are your expectations for your senior year?
SM: We have a lot, we’re trying to go undefeated. I mean, that win, that was a tough one to pull out. We had a lot of jitters going into the first half, and they had a little confidence on the offensive end, so we just have to pick it on Monday.
AS: You played in this tournament last year, and your team went 2-2. What is different between last year’s tournament and this year for you guys?
SM: I think it’s just this first win. I mean, last year right off the bat we got a loss. So it was a really good win for us, and we’re going to go hard on Monday.
AS: How is your recruitment looking like so far? What schools are you looking at?
SM: Kansas, Kentucky, UNLV, UCLA, USC, and Duke.
AS: Any schools stand out to you in particular?
SM: Yeah, I think UNLV stands out, Kentucky, Duke, and UCLA, all really stand out to me from a player’s standpoint. Kansas also really has a great program too, and I’m excited to take my official up there and see Coach Self and his staff.
AS: What do you look for in a school and what do you believe you can contribute?
SM: I think I can contribute a lot. On defense, I can play hard. On the offensive end, I can score a little and get rebounds. I can get out in transition. I can do things to make a program better.
AS: Any player you look up to or are there any that have given you advice?
SM: I think a player that I look up to that I watch is probably Kobe Bryant. Players that I talk to that have given me advice are Derrick Rose, John Wall, and Kevin Durant. Those guys are really nice guys.
AS: You are the consensus number one player in the country, how do you handle that title?
SM: I mean, you just have to act like you’re not the number one player in the country; on the court you just do what your team needs you to do. It was an ugly game, but we have to move on from there.
AS: By when do you plan on cutting your list or deciding on a school?
SM: I just cut it, so I’m probably going to decide in the spring. I’m just going to decide off of those six schools.