When UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero announced Tuesday that Ben Howland would return for another season at UCLA, the news wasn't greeted with a lot of positivity from fans, but at least one fan was happy about the decision - the father of top recruit Shabazz Muhammad. And in terms of securing Howland's future success, a vote of confident from the father of one of the nation's top recruits is worth a lot.
"(I'm) happy for Ben, happy for the program," Ron Holmes said in a telephone interview with the L.A. Times. "I think he's going to do a good job and that he'll get the program back on track."
Muhammad is not a UCLA commit. Although the Bruins are on his list of suitors, so are Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and UNLV. Muhammad is scheduled to take an official visit to UCLA in early April and will choose a school shortly after that.
Howland found himself in hot water not only because of the Bruins' 19-14 record and ultimately being passed over by the NCAA Tournament and the NIT, but also because of a profile that ran in Sports Illustrated this month that painted UCLA basketball as a poorly run program with a lack of discipline. UCLA has disputed the story, but it left a black mark on the program and on Howland's resume.
But Holmes, Muhammad and Howland talked about the issues surrounding the program, the story and Howland's status and Holmes said he and his son came away satisfied with the conversation.
"We understand that there are a lot of issues with a lot of programs and that was brought to light with UCLA," Holmes cryptically told the Times.
The fact that Holmes is commenting on Howland's status is definitely a positive for a coach that will definitely be scrutinized throughout the offseason and into next year. Muhammad is the nation's top recruit and signing him would be the first step toward putting UCLA back on the map — in a positive way — and get some folks back in Howland's corner.