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April 11, 2011

Muhammad makes case for No. 1

MORE FULLCOURT PRESS: Day 2 | Day 1

LAS VEGAS - Shabazz Muhammad was asked Friday night about possibly being the nation's best prep basketball player. He smiled after saying it's his goal to be atop the list.

Then the 6-foot-5 lefty shooting guard went out and dominated all weekend.

Muhammad led his Dream Vision team to the Fullcourt Press Easter Classic championship and was named MVP after scoring 18 points in the title-game victory over Branch West.

Muhammad, who has Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, UCLA, Arizona, Kansas and others involved, was especially impressive in a semifinal win against the Las Vegas Dogcatchers.

The Las Vegas Bishop Gorman standout basically took over that game hitting three-pointers, finishing around the basket and simply dominating the offensive end. A few highlight-reel dunks wowed the crowd as Muhammad put his stamp on being one of the nation's top players.

But the top player?

That is still up for debate as Rivals.com rates centers Andre Drummond from Oakdale (Conn.) St. Thomas More and Isaiah Austin out of Arlington (Texas) Grace Prep Nos. 1-2, respectively.

Austin played with the Compton Magic over the weekend but his team was upset early Sunday morning and eliminated. During Saturday's action, Austin controlled the offensive glass and scored at will in the paint. He also is uniquely coordinated for a player his size since he played some point guard and broke his defender down off the dribble.

But the Compton team and Belmont Shore - which features five-star forward Grant Jerrett - both were upset early Sunday in the playoff round.

That didn't happen to Muhammad and Dream Vision, which also boasts four-star Winston Shepard, three-star center Robert Upshaw, forward Demetris Morant and point guard Joe Rahon, who was especially impressive leading an all-star cast and picking his spots from the three-point line when necessary.

Even with so many talented players on the court, Muhammad still shined. He was the best player on the best team, and couldn't have done much more to stake his claim as being No. 1.

REMEMBER THIS NAME

Stephen Zimmerman is still in the eighth grade - and he's already 6-foot-9 and 200 pounds.

Zimmerman has talent, too, showing off a nice midrange game and he was aggressive on the boards playing with the 16-under Dream Vision team.

The lefty is getting more comfortable with his back to the basket and obviously has plenty of time to refine his fundamentals. For a player still not even in high school - he's 14 years old - Zimmerman is way ahead of the curve.

Dream Vision tried to get him the ball as much as possible in the low post and he made a bunch of nice moves to his left and right. On defense, Zimmerman blocks out well and also has quick feet to get into position to block shots.

There's a good chance Zimmerman, whose father is 6-foot-5 and mother is 6-foot-3, could grow even more. He said his doctor told him that being a 7-footer is definitely within reason.

STANLEY PULLS DOUBLE DUTY

Ronnie Stanley and Arik Armstead are two of the best offensive linemen on the West Coast and maybe in the country, and both were in Las Vegas this weekend showing off some serious basketball ability, too.

Stanley, a 6-foot-7, 285-pounder from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, has football offers from USC, Arkansas, Nebraska, UCLA, Washington and many others, but is running up and down the court mainly because he said basketball has always been a big part of his life.

Just because he's a major football prospect doesn't mean he's going to stop playing basketball. Next weekend, Stanley will be competing with Dream Vision at the Real Deal in the Rock in Little Rock, Ark., and he plans to take an unofficial visit to Arkansas during that trip.

"It does get tiring playing basketball and football but I've always played basketball and I really love it," said Stanley, one of the top offensive linemen at the Los Angeles Nike camp last weekend.

"Going out on the road this spring and summer is going to allow me to visit some campuses, too, so that's good. It's been fun so far but it does get tiring. I have a really busy schedule this summer."



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