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Utah Jazz: UCLA's Muhammad shows up but can't work out

Published June 17, 2013 8:41 pm

Utah Jazz • Former Bruin misses drills due to ankle injury but meets with team officials.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The most high-profile player among the 12 invited to work out for the Utah Jazz on Monday never took a shot or participated in any drill.

UCLA shooting guard Shabazz Muhammad attended the audition but could not play because of an ankle injury. His left foot was in a walking boot when he met the media.

Muhammad said his ankle "just got really sore" after a workout in Minnesota on Sunday.

He skipped working out for the Jazz as a precaution, although he wanted to meet the team's personnel and coaching staff.

"I'm glad I came out here, just to show my face" he said. "Some guys who are hurt just cancel. But I wanted to come and ... show how good of a person I am."

Muhammad averaged 17.9 points and 5.2 rebounds in his only season at UCLA. He remains a projected lottery pick, although his stock among NBA teams has dropped since the start of last season, when he was considered a top-five candidate.

What happened?

UCLA underachieved with Muhammad as its marquee player last season, and coach Ben Howland eventually was fired. Off the court, Muhammad was involved in a controversy involving his age. He alledgedly was a 19-year-old freshman. But it turned out he's 20.

Muhammad apparently competed against younger, smaller and less mature players growing up to make him look better to AAU and college coaches.

"There are concerns about anything we hear off the court," Jazz vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin said. "We weigh that with how good of a player he is, how well he will fit here in Utah and if he can help us become a championship contender."

The Jazz own the 14th pick in the first round, and, according to Muhammad, he has not worked out for any team picking lower than Utah.

"I think I'm a top-10 guy," he said. "But we'll see what happens."

Should Muhammad slip to Utah, he already has found a silver lining.

"It's a good situation here, absolutely," he said. "It's close to where I live [in California], and they have a lot of great pieces with Derrick Favors and a lot of young guys. I think I could step in here" and contribute.

The players who did work out for the Jazz included Michigan guard Tim Hardaway Jr., Duke forward Mason Plumlee, North Carolina guard Dexter Strickland, Butler center Andrew Smith, USC forward Dewayne Dedmon, Missouri guard Phil Pressey, Princeton forward Ian Hummer, Georgia Tech guard Mfron Udofia, Illinois State guard Tyler Brown and Azusa Pacific guard B.J. Porter.

Like Muhammad, Brazilian center Lucas Nogueira attended the session but did not play because of injury.