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April 9, 2011

Muhammad shines in Vegas spotlight

LAS VEGAS - The opening round game for Shabazz Muhammad and Dream Vision was not much competition but the five-star guard playing on his home court at Bishop Gorman said he knows it's about more than a blowout on the first night of the Fullcourt Press Easter Classic.

Muhammad, who plays with a little Brandon Jennings and a little John Wall to his game, wants to be the No. 1 player in the 2012 class. Muhammad said he's only going to earn that distinction by bringing it every night.

He delivered on Day 1.

"When you're out there everybody is the same until you can start showing what you can do on the court," Muhammad said, "so there's a big target on your back when you're a known player like this, so you have to go out and perform every night.

"I have a big target on my back so everybody is trying to go at me so I need to be ready at all times."

Muhammad and his entire team was ready against an outmanned NFL YET team, opening a 24-0 lead and having it balloon to 59-31 at halftime.

It was really over soon after it started since Muhammad, San Diego (Calif.) Torrey Pines guard Joe Rahon, three-star center Robert Upshaw and four-star forward Winston Shepard dominated from the tip and rolled the lesser competition.

It's no surprise Muhammad's style emulates a little of Wall and Jennings since he tries to watch as much of those players, along with O.J. Mayo, as he can so he can tweak his game and add some things.

Wall might have his ear when it comes to recruiting, too, a good sign for Kentucky, one of Muhammad's favorites.

"I talk to John Wall," Muhammad said. "Me and him are cool. I get some tips off him.

"I just text him and stuff and tell him I'm on a visit and he tells me to just take my time and go from there and not rush anything. They're a favorite because coach (John) Calipari knows how to control his guards in that offense. When John talks to me it makes sense and it's a good opportunity for me. They're up there."

But Muhammad said he doesn't have a leader yet. He said Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA and Arizona were some favorites but others were involved as well.

He's careful when it comes to recruiting talk. After all, being one of the nation's top players comes with intense scrutiny as well.

AMBASSADORS HAVE PLAYERS

Alex Caruso from College Station (Texas) A&M Consolidated was the best player on the Texas D-1 Ambassadors Houston squad Friday night that downed the Las Vegas Prospects, but there were a bunch of other mid- to high-major players on the team as well.

Caruso, a 6-foot-6 prospect, can play either guard position and was one of the smartest players on the court, especially with the ball in his hands.

So far, only Sam Houston State has offered but Caruso said Wichita State, UTEP, Texas-Arlington and Northern Colorado are interested.

Caruso grew up being the Texas A&M ball boy because his father is in the Aggies' athletic department. If the Aggies got involved, Caruso said he'd definitely be interested.

"I'm going to go through the summer and see what looks I get," Caruso said. "I'm hoping some major programs get interested and we'll see where I am after the summer.

"I might not have the natural talent that some people have but I feel with my defense and my mental game I'm there."

The other player who shined was 2011 shooting guard Devon Turk, a spot-up 3-point shooter who hit jumpers from all over the court. Turk wasn't at his best creating his own shots off the dribble but when he spotted up on the perimeter and got the kick-out pass, he was pure all game.

Cal Poly, Rice, San Francisco, Weber State, Sam Houston State and Oregon State are some of the programs interested in Turk, who said Sam Houston State and Weber State stand out most at this point. He's going to wait through the spring to see which other schools get involved.

Others on the Texas team that stood out included 2013 prospects Kendrick Morris and Jonathan Motley and 2011 recruit Kenyan Willis, a lanky 6-foot-8 forward who impressed with his passing.

DOUBLE DUTY FOR HENDERSON

Last weekend, Hasaan Henderson was playing quarterback at the Los Angeles NIKE Camp and in less than a week the Las Vegas prospect has switched sports and is playing forward with the Marcus Banks Hard 2 Guard team.

His only two points in the first half came on an impressive dunk in a crowd so he's still shaking off some rust. That's fine with Henderson, who said he's open to playing either football or basketball in college. UNLV offered him to play football this week and he said Oregon, Arkansas and others are showing interest.

If quarterback does not work out for Henderson he's certainly athletic enough to play wide receiver in college. He was one of the more versatile players at the NIKE football camp last weekend and continued to show that on the court a few days later back in his hometown.

"Basketball conditioning and football conditioning are two totally different things so it gets to you at times but you just have to keep your focus and work hard," Henderson said.

"You don't have to be out partying or any of that stuff. Get your schoolwork done, go to practice and it's hard, but it's a lot of fun to do both, too."



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