Shabazz Muhammad of UCLA participated in a pre-draft workout with the Sacramento Kings, on Monday.
SACRAMENTO, CA - Once heralded as arguably the best high school talent in the country, UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad would love to remain in California and make Sacramento his home.
And on June 27 at the NBA Draft in New York, he can imagine his name being called by league Commissioner David Stern, announcing that he was drafted by the Sacramento Kings, with the seventh overall pick.
So, did that mean Monday's pre-draft workout with the Sacramento Kings felt a little more important than some of his other stops on his NBA tour?
"Oh, absolutely, this is the range people say I'm probably going to be at, (around the seventh pick)," Muhammad said, following his pre-draft workout with the Kings, on Monday.
"This is definitely a really important workout for me. I think I showed a lot today and really impressed the coaches.
Muhammad could have been the Draft's top pick a year ago coming out of high school, if the league's rules would have allowed it. Since they don't, he finds his draft stock a lot lower - and in some projections, outside the top ten draft picks.
New Kings head coach Michael Malone, former Kings player Bobby Jackson and newly hired assistant coach Chris Jent led the workouts. Following the workout, after the media was allowed onto the practice court, Muhammad spent nearly ten minutes sitting and speaking with Malone, one-on-one.
Muhammad has a strong connection to Sacramento. His uncle is Stephone Paige, a former Kansas City Chiefs player who lasted nine seasons in the NFL, lives in the city. Asia, his sister, plays professional tennis and spent last season with the Sacramento Capitals.
The 20-year-old, 6-foot-6, 225-pound Muhammad biggest strength is his shooting ability, at least when left open. He said he prefers to play shooting guard, but said he's willing to play any position necessary in the NBA. His wingspan measures just shy of seven-feet long and displays a knack for scoring.
Following his freshman season, averaging 17.9 points per game shooting slightly better than 44-percent from the field and almost 38-percent on three pointers, in 32 games with the Bruins. He finished as UCLA's second all-time freshman scorer behind Don MacLean in 1988-89. He also averaged 5.2 rebounds per game.
Muhammad acknowledged his perceived weakness is shooting off the dribble, but quickly points out that it has improved drastically.
Others will criticize his defensive ability and willingness to play hard, especially in games where he is shaky offensively.
Joining Muhammad during Monday's workout was Brandon Davies of BYU, Elias Harris of Gonzaga, Zeke Marshall from Akron, Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe and Romero Osby from Oklahoma.
The 45-year-old Jent joined Malone's staff after serving as an assistant at his alma mater since 2011. He previously coached as an assistant along side Malone in Cleveland under Mike Brown.
There are no workouts scheduled for Tuesday.
By Sean Cunningham, SCunningham@News10.net