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Prep basketball:

Older brother gets the buzz, but Rashad Muhammad’s profile is rising

Shabazz and Rashad Muhammad

Leila Navidi

Rashad Muhammad practices at Bishop Gorman High School Wednesday, July 20, 2011.

Shabazz and Rashad Muhammad

Shabazz Muhammad practices at Bishop Gorman High School Wednesday, July 20, 2011. Launch slideshow »

When Bishop Gorman High School rising junior Rashad Muhammad takes the floor this weekend at the adidas Super 64 at Rancho High School, the 6-foot-4 point guard knows the comparisons will begin.

You see, his older brother Shabazz Muhammad, a rising senior wing at Gorman, is rated as the nation’s No. 1 prospect for the class of 2012 by recruiting service Shabazz has a smooth left-handed shooting stroke, always finds ways to score (he averaged 25 points a game as a junior for Gorman) and can bring fans in a gym to their feet with his high-flying dunking ability.

His double-digit scholarships offers include heavy interest from the nation’s elite programs — Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina, to name a few. Shabazz is on magazine covers, has 7,950 followers on (most are pleading with him to attend their university) and is considered a sure NBA player, maybe as soon as the 2013 draft.

But Rashad is no slouch either, with scholarship offers from the likes of Maryland, Memphis and Texas A&M. He just hasn’t reached the elite status of his brother.

That’s something he’ll be reminded of this weekend when he takes the court with the AAU’s Dream Vision 16s.

“When (Rashad) plays in AAU tournaments, guys from the others teams who he doesn’t even know say, ‘Man, I saw your brother play. He is so good and you suck,’ ” said Ron Holmes, their father. “They try to get in his head like that. He has to deal with that stuff all of the time.”

The younger Muhammad says being compared with his brother can be frustrating. But it also has helped transform him into a solid college prospect.

“I’m trying to make a name for myself — Rashad Muhammad and not just Shabazz’s brother,” he said. “I’m trying to get out of his shadow. That’s what pushes me to practice harder.”

And that practice has paid off.

He saw limited quality minutes for Gorman last year, averaging six points a game while transitioning from the shooting guard position to a point guard. On a team with as many as eight Division I prospects, he will competing for the starting point guard job the next two years.

It’s an opportunity he’s earned through countless hours in the gym — one of his things his brother is known for, too.

“People talk about how Shabazz works hard and what a horse he is,” Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “But whenever Shabazz is here, Rashad is here, too. They are doing the same workout. Rashad can do multiple things. He has ball handling skills, is a great slasher and shoots it well. He’s just become a complete player.”

Part of Rashad’s growth has included plenty of long talks with Rice. Rice, after all, knows a thing or two about having his accomplishments overlooked because of the success of his older brother, UNLV coach Dave Rice.

“I had a heart-to-heart with Rashad after Dave got the job at UNLV in the spring,” Rice said. “I wanted to take him under my wing because I know what it is like to be in the shadow of an older brother who everyone is talking about and is extremely successful. My nickname has become Rice No. 2, but I am happy with that. I wouldn’t want to have a different brother and I know Rashad wouldn’t either.”

The brothers’ relationship has helped both take their games to another level.

“We are real close,” Rashad said. “He always pushed me and I always push him. If I am slacking, he’ll be the first to yell at me. If he does something wrong, I’ll yell at him, too. We are family. We help each other accomplish our goals together.”

That bond is obvious watching them interact — on the court, at home or in a social setting.

“I think it’s great that he’s handling like that,” Shabazz said. “Earlier, he had his struggles with it with people doubting him, people saying he’s getting ranked just because of me. But this summer, he’s been doing really well.”

Although Shabazz has clearly developed into a prize recruit, his younger brother is showing he is not far behind. And, when it is all said and done, their father feels the sky is the limit.

“At the end of the day, my philosophy is that if you work harder than everyone else good things will happen,” Holmes said. “Rashad is doing just that. Everyone wants to be the best, that’s human nature and that’s what drives him to work hard in the gym. The jury is still out on (which brother) is going to be a better player.”

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