How UCLA Basketball Will Compete With and Without its Two Star Freshman

The NCAA sanctions against Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson are real and don't look to be going away any time soon.  It was a big enough deal when it was just Shabazz being investigated, but now it is both of them.  Tony Parker had been investigated and has already been cleared which is a good sign.  The fact is that UCLA could look like a much different team next year or the same middle of the pack Pac-12 team.

Kyle Anderson seems to me to be the bigger issue at this point.  I know Shabazz is the more highly touted recruit, but if you saw the way that Anderson handled himself in China, it was something amazing to witness.  Both guys are a once in a decade type talent in their own special ways and it would be extremely beneficial to have them on the roster when the season starts.

I don't understand why bringing in a good recruiting class these days means that you are almost guaranteed to be investigated.  Isn't there such a thing as just being a good coach, recruiter and being able to bring in great talent?  I guess not in this millennium.  At least not at a top notch program like UCLA.  I have always wondered why schools like Texas, Florida and Syracuse never had any allegations.  Apparently they aren't doing the same things as UCLA or (Kentucky, UCONN, etc.)

With Shabazz and no Kyle Anderson they are still a Pac-12 contending team.  They have the depth to counter the loss of Anderson, but they will lose in the sweet-16.  With Anderson and no Shabazz, the odds are about the same.  Challenge for a Pac-12 title, but most likely will lose in the sweet-16.  Now is when we get to the interesting stuff.

With neither Anderson or Muhammad.  UCLA fans can basically look forward to a 3rd or 4th place Pac-12 finish and a first round loss in the tournament.  Even big years from Jordan Adams and one of the Wear twins, which I am expecting no matter the circumstance still seems to spell a rougher than expected season in Westwood.  This is UCLA still and anything aside from a NCAA title means that improvement is necessary.  Ben Howland gets fired and is replaced before Dan Guerrero is fired meaning that some ridiculous replacement like a high school science teacher is at the helm next season.  Sorry UCLA.

If both Anderson and Muhammad are cleared to play.  Rejoice in what should be the beginning of another Ben Howland final four run.  Howland has been under scrutiny later, but let us not forget that he is a great coach and he deserves our respect.  Muhammad challenges for Pac-12 and Wooden awards and Anderson looks like the second coming of one Earvin "Magic" Johnson, as advertised.  A Pac-12 title is within reach and a date in the championship game awaits with probably Indiana.  UCLA finally hangs another banner and has the party that we have been waiting for since 1995.  Howland is back in our good graces and Anderson decides he wants a second title before leaving for his millions.

It is all speculation at this point.  Anybodies guess is as good as mine, but let us be optimistic.  I have heard nothing that would make either of these players guilty of anything more than a couple of game suspension.  A full year ban would be demoralizing to the UCLA program.  UCLA and its fans want to see our program return to its glory days.  We don't need 7 titles in a row, but we would like at least 2 in the next 10 years.  I don't think it is that farfetched of a goal.  Bruin fans expect greatness or at least they should.

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