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Shabazz Muhammad officially off to the NBA

Minnesota v UCLA

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 22: Shabazz Muhammad #15 of the UCLA Bruins shoots a free throw while playing the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the second round of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at The Frank Erwin Center on March 22, 2013 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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We’ve known this to be true since the season ended, but UCLA made it official on Tuesday, as they sent out a press release confirming that star freshman Shabazz Muhammad would be leaving school and entering the NBA Draft.

“I am so thankful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play at UCLA and will always be proud to be a Bruin,” Muhammad said in a statement. “From a young age, I have dreamed of playing in the NBA, and I believe that this is the right time for me to move to the next level.

“I have had an unbelievable experience at UCLA and am eternally grateful to my teammates, my coaches and the program’s support staff for helping me become a better person and basketball player during my time in Westwood. It has been an honor and a privilege to play for coach Ben Howland.”

(CLICK HERE to follow along with who is turning pro and who is returning to school.)

Muhammad is a bit of a polarizing prospect. He’s been considered one of the best players in his class for a long time, but it turns out that he’s actually a year older than many believed he was. That’s concerning because Muhammad’s spent much of his career dominating the amateur levels thanks to superior strength and athleticism. The fact that he did so a year older than he said he was is a concern.

He’s still going to be a lottery pick, but it will be interesting to see where he is drafted and how good of a pro he ends up being.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.