UCLA Star Shabazz Muhammad Is Reportedly 20, Not 19

John Rozum@Rozum27Correspondent IMarch 22, 2013

Shabazz Muhammad of the UCLA Bruins is reportedly not as young as previously thought.

Ken Bensinger of the Los Angeles Times reported Friday that Muhammad is actually a year older than the age the star freshman had on file with the team and NCAA:

According to the UCLA men's basketball media guide, he was born in Los Angeles on Nov. 13, 1993.

But a copy of Shabazz Nagee Muhammad's birth certificate on file with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health shows that he was born at Long Beach Memorial Hospital exactly one year earlier, making him 20 years old — not 19 as widely reported.

How and when he lost a year of his life are unclear. But competing against younger, smaller athletes, particularly in the fast-growing years of early adolescence, can be "a huge edge," said Eddie Bonine, executive director of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Assn. "People naturally look at the big, strong kids."

This is definitely an interesting unveiling of one of college basketball's top stars. The advantage, of course, allowed Muhammad to stand out among the competition, but to a degree, it likely would not have made a difference.

Why?

Factoring in that Muhammad is expected to be a high selection in the 2013 NBA draft, the guy clearly dominates the game as it is. This season, he has averaged 17.8 points and 5.3 boards and shot 44.7 percent from the field and 70.6 from the line.

Unsurprisingly, coach Ben Howland and the Bruins won the Pac-12 regular-season title and nearly pulled the double whammy, but the Oregon Ducks upset them in the conference tournament. Still, Muhammad's size, frame and complete skill set are a competitive advantage, regardless of age.

The intrigue here is with regard to his current NBA potential.

Muhammad had an additional year of training and preparation, so he's physically and mentally more mature. And that will only help with the transition into the immediate windfall that comes with the territory as a professional athlete.

The flip side of this coin, however, is Muhammad's NBA career getting cut short by one year.

We've seen numerous players make strong impacts so quickly in the Association that capitalizing on a prospect's youth is now a critical edge pertaining to a franchise's long-term success. It would be surprising if this newfound discrepancy greatly affected Muhammad's stock, though, as he is still one of the best talents this year.

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