UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad highlights the Muslim contingent of the South Region of the 2013 NCAA menâ€™s basketball tournament. After initially being declared ineligible for the first couple of games of the season during an eligibility investigation, the star forward has delivered on the promise that he showed as a high school American at Biship Gorman High School in Las Vegas. He was named to the All Pacific-12 Conference first team, and was named the conferences co-Freshman-of-the-Year after averaging 17.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Muhammadâ€™s coach, Ben Howland, recently acknowledged that Shabazz would in all likelihood leave after this season for the NBA. Muhammad has a Persian teammate, junior center Sooren Derboghosian.
In another Muslim-against-Muslim first round matchup, Narbeh Ebrihimian and the San Diego State Aztecs take on Amath Nâ€™Baye and the Oklahoma Sooners. Ebrihimian is a 6â€™3â€ senior guard from Glendale, CA. Mâ€™Baye is a 6â€™9â€ junior forward who hails from Bordeaux, France. Mâ€™Baye originally transferred to Oklahoma from the University of Wyoming.
Finally, a pair of Muslims patrol the frontcourt for Villanova University. Forward Mouphtaou Yarou is a senior originally from the country of Benin. Achraf Yacoubou is a sophomore guard from Bronx, New York. Yacoubou was the third best high school player coming out of the state of New York in 2011 according to ESPNâ€™s Recruiting Nation.