I think most people who follow UCLA or college basketball figured this was going to happen sooner or later. Fiday was the day that men’s basketball head coach Ben Howland announced junior forward Reeves Nelson would no longer be a member of the team. Howland released the following statement:
“After much thought and deliberation, I have made the decision to dismiss Reeves Nelson from the UCLA men’s basketball Team effective immediately,” Howland said in a statement. “This decision is not one that I take lightly, but it is in the best interest of both the program and the student-athlete.”
Nelson was suspended for the first time this season after reportedly not participating in timeouts during the season opening loss to Loyola Marymount and getting into a verbal altercation with coach Howland the following day. That suspension lasted one game. Earlier this week Howland suspended Nelson again for “conduct unbecoming a member of the UCLA basketball team“.
Reeves Nelson led UCLA in scoring (13.9) and rebounding (9.1) last year and was expected to lead this year’s team. In 6 games this season he averaged 5.7 points, and 4.5 rebounds in 19 minutes per game.
The Bruins have gotten off to a disappointing 2-5 start with losses to Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee State in the first 2 games. While players may not admit to Nelson being a distraction Ben Howland felt he’s seen enough and is looking ahead to the rest of the season.
“It’s just a culmination of everything,” Howland said on the conference call. “The last game, the behavior on the bench, after the game — it was probably, finally, we have to move forward.
“In fairness to the team, there’s a point where we’ve got to move forward.”
UCLA faces Pennsylvania Saturday looking to rebound from a 69-59 loss to Texas December 3rd.
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