UCLA Sees Two Players Leave Program in Four Days

by November 29, 2012

UCLA had some very lofty expectations coming into the season after welcoming the top recruiting class in all of college basketball that featured three McDonald’s All-Americans. But the last few days haven’t been so colorful for them. They suffered an upset at the hands of Cal Poly on Sunday, ultimately losing their national ranking spot, in addition to losing guard Tyler Lamb (unhappy with minutes) and Josh Smith (weight and conditioning issues) all in the same week. The recent events have left many wondering if head coach Ben Howland is in the hot seat or just how long he will last? It wouldn’t be Hollywood without the drama. From the LA Times: UCLA junior center Joshua Smith has quit the Bruins basketball team, the school announced Wednesday, thus ending his up-and-down career in Westwood that has been plagued by weight and conditioning issues. “I have made the decision to leave the program for personal reasons,” Smith said in a statement. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at UCLA and am grateful for the opportunity that has been presented to me here.” Smith has been granted his release, effective immediately. It is unclear if he will stay in school at UCLA or if he intends to transfer. A person close to the team confirmed that the 6-foot-10, 300-plus-pound Smith did not practice Tuesday because of “weight issues,” which has been an issue for the junior during his time with the Bruins. Another person close to the situation said that Smith was mulling over whether to quit the team Tuesday, and that he met with Coach Ben Howland on Wednesday to discuss his future at UCLA. “Joshua is a fine young man who has meant a lot to this program,” Howland said in a statement. “I know I speak for myself and my staff when I thank him for his time in Westwood and wish him well in his future endeavors.”