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Report: NCAA looking into amateur status of Gorman star Muhammad

The NCAA has contacted schools recruiting Bishop Gorman High School boys basketball star Shabazz Muhammad and made them aware of financial dealings that could jeopardize his amateur status, CBSSports.com reported Wednesday.

Sources told CBSSports.com that the NCAA is interested in connections between Muhammad’s family and financial advisers Benjamin Lincoln and Ken Kavanagh.

Muhammad, a 6-foot-6-inch swingman, scored 30 of his 36 points in the first half to lead Gorman to a 96-51 win over Hug High School in the Class 4A state title game Friday in Reno.

Rivals.com ranks Muhammad the No. 1 senior prospect in the nation regardless of position.

Muhammad made an official recruiting visit to Kansas last weekend and is still believed to be scheduled for an official visit to Duke this weekend.

As of last weekend, Muhammad also was considering scholarship offers from UNLV, UCLA, Kentucky and Arizona.

Phone messages and a text message left for Muhammad’s father, Ron Holmes, were not returned Wednesday. A phone message left for Gorman coach Grant Rice also was not returned.

Muhammad, who has more than 22,000 followers on Twitter, hadn’t posted anything on the social networking site since Monday as of 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Eric Toliver, UNLV’s senior associate athletics director for compliance, said that he could not comment on specifics of any athlete’s recruitment other than to confirm the Rebels were actively recruiting Muhammad.

However, Toliver said: “We have heard from the NCAA on the recruitment of a prospect. I can’t mention names.”

Asked whether the CBSSports.com story was accurate, Toliver said: “I think the information contained in that article had some accuracy.”

Toliver said unofficial visits differ from official visits in that the institution is prohibited by NCAA rules from financing any portion of an unofficial visit, although three complimentary tickets are provided to a home game.

Toliver said the complex nature of unofficial visits and who pays for them has given those in compliance circles an increased workload in recent years.

“I think that’s a trend that has been occurring around the nation for a few years now,” he said. “It’s a tough business out there to try to monitor what families and recruits are and who they know. It’s scary. It makes me sleep with one eye open sometimes.

“But right now, as far as I’m concerned, UNLV’s not involved in any violations regarding any current basketball prospect.”

A source told the Review-Journal that the NCAA has notified UNLV’s coaches that if an investigation into Muhammad’s recruitment uncovers violations, he could be sidelined for several games as a college freshman.

Kavanagh, a New York-based financial planner, told CBSSports.com that he would like one day to represent Muhammad, who many anticipate playing one year in college before leaving for the NBA. CBSSports.com reported that Kavanagh has helped fund Muhammad’s summer team, Dream Vision, which is based in Las Vegas and San Diego.

Dream Vision coach Clayton Williams told the Review-Journal on Wednesday that he believes no rules have been broken in Muhammad’s recruitment, though he has yet to read the CBSSports.com report.

“In my opinion, from what I’ve been told, I don’t think this will be one of those ‘catch-you’ stories,” Williams said. “I don’t think anyone’s done anything wrong. There have been no rules broken as far as I know.

“We run a clean program, and our kids know that.”

Muhammad led Dream Vision to a second-place finish in the adidas Super 64 tournament at Rancho High School in July.

During the tournament, media on press row openly speculated that Muhammad would sign with an adidas-sponsored school such as UCLA or Kansas given the fact that adidas sponsors Dream Vision and that Muhammad’s sister, professional tennis player Asia Muhammad, has a contract with adidas.

UNLV is sponsored by Nike.

Holmes, however, emphatically denied to CBSSports.com that adidas has any sway in where his son decides to go to college.

Lincoln, a North Carolina-based financial planner, told CBSSports.com that he funded at least two of Muhammad’s unofficial visits but said he believes he did so within NCAA rules.

Lincoln’s brother, Geoff Lincoln, is an assistant coach for Gorman’s boys basketball team. Geoff Lincoln did not return a phone message seeking comment.

Muhammad has said he plans to announce his college choice in April. The first day he can sign a national letter of intent is April 11.

Holmes told the Review-Journal on Friday that his family was set to begin looking closer at Muhammad’s looming decision, which has been a hot topic in college basketball news and social media for years.

“I think we have to start really focusing on that decision now,” Holmes said Friday. “It’s going to become very stressful for him and our family. But we’re going to take the visits and see.”

This is not the first time Muhammad’s recruitment has been questioned.

The Memphis (Tenn.) Commercial Appeal reported in August that the NCAA’s Basketball Focus Group asked Memphis to explain what it knew about how Muhammad paid for a previous unofficial visit to Memphis.

Memphis was not hit with any violation but has since fallen out of the race to land Muhammad.

Though Muhammad is finished playing for Gorman, he has at least two more showcase games on the horizon.

He is scheduled to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game in Chicago on March 28 and the Jordan Brand Classic in Charlotte, N.C., on April 14.

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