Nelson suspended indefinitely again

UCLA head coach Ben Howland suspended returning leading scorer and rebounder Reeves Nelson from the team on Tuesday, continuing a tumultuous ride for the enigmatic star.

Nelson was suspended indefinitely on Nov. 14 but reinstated just two days later after missing the team’s loss to MIddle Tennessee State. After missing the team flight to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational, Nelson was suspended for the first half of the Bruins’ win over Chaminade.

After totaling 51 minutes in UCLA’s following two games against No. 14 Kansas and No. 15 Michigan in Maui, Nelson played just 10 minutes in a UCLA win over Pepperdine and 12 minutes in a loss to Texas.

“This continues a trend of very disappointing behavior by Reeves,” Howland said in a release. “I personally have worked hard with him to illustrate the importance of the code of conduct for our student-athletes, as well as the ramifications for violating it. I am disappointed that he has continued to fall short of my expectations.”

The team’s lone returning all-conference first-team selection, Nelson was expected to once more be a scoring and rebounding threat, coming off back-to-back impressive seasons. After averaging 11.1 points and 5.7 rebounds as a freshman, Nelson improved greatly last year, to 13.9 points per game and 9.1 rebounds. This year, though, he has contributed just 5.7 points and 4.5 rebounds in the Bruins’ 2-5 start.

Nelson is just the latest in a string of fractured relationships for UCLA.

Former Bruin forwards Mike Moser and Chase Stanback are the main reason UNLV is off to an 8-1 start, averaging a combined 31.9 points and 18.2 rebounds. Former UCLA forward Drew Gordon is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 rebounds for 6-2 New Mexico and BYU transfer Matt Carlino is about to become eligible for the Cougars in mid-December.

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  • Bruinfreak

    Oh you are just baiting us with the last paragraph.

  • Battanpocket

    Dump the clown.

  • Anonymous

    Is there any way to get Kerry Keating back? Since he left for Santa Clara Howland is clueless.

  • Anonymous

    anyone else get the feeling this is the end of Nelson? how many times can you get suspended and still want to come back and play your best?

    sad because i really liked him as a player :(. I don’t think UCLA can go very far without him.

  • MoeBruins

    I think the last paragraph is very relevant. I mean I for one have nothing against Howland being a tough coach and having people leave who don’t want to put out. However, if that is the case why are the people that left doing very well at their new school and we have the mental cases left on our squad.

    And if Howland is so tough why is the media portraying him as being too soft in how he is handling Nelson.

  • bruincheerleader

    the real question we need to be asking here is why is howland having so many problems with players HE HAS RECRUITED?…these are not inherited players, but he went out and sought them…i for one think the blush is finally off howland…

  • MPP Bruin

    This continues to be my biggest problem with Howland’s tenure. Since 2008 how many players have we had leave the team due to some kind of mismanaged relationship? In addition to the players listed in the article, I think you also need to look at the players who have left early. I’m sure that some of this is why Honeycutt and Lee are gone. This might not always be Howland’s fault, but there does seem to be a pattern here.

  • Anonymous

    I have always been a Howland supporter. However, these strings of dismissal and transfers is telling me Howland’s stubbornness is wearing thin on the players. It is now apparent that there’s a real negative with Howland’s approach. We are losing good players and we now have a mediocre coach who’s style of play no longer works. Now is the time to change the coach or highly-recruited players won’t come to UCLA. UCLA deserves better than this. Guerrero is to blamed for this mess. Time is running out for him too with the mess with the football program.

  • You guys are putting this on Howland, really?
    How did Howland make Nelson fight with his teammates? And was Howland behind Nelson missing the team flight?
    If Nelson would spend as much time on the court that he spends in the tatoo parlor, then he’d be quite a player.

  • Anonymous

    Collison punched Farmar in the face. Fighting’s not an issue. A careless Attitude is. These guys don’t have ANY pride playing for UCLA. Nelson could care less we let Texas win, laughing it up on the bench.

    We need Keating back! His recruiting was great, relating to players and nurturing their mental toughness. He was the go-between for Howland. If the players don’t want to play, it doesn’t matter how talented they are.

    Nelson = bad attitude = no desire to win for UCLA or for Howland.
    Smith = out of shape = no desire to win for UCLA or for Howland.

    Howland needs to recruit a hard-working leader. Hopefully that’s Kyle Anderson. He also needs a better assistant!

  • ucla-of-the-rockies

    @mpp: +1
    This does not bode well for Reeves or UCLA hoops.

    I wonder if he can coach football.

  • 5-Hole

    what this shows is that we don’t necessarily have to recruit the top five star players…we need to recruit attitude and character as much or more.

    effort and desire win games…ego and nonchalance do not

  • Armand Morton

    Talent and teamwork wins games. You have to have both. It appears Howland has neither right now. What a mess.

    Go Bruins!

  • ProbationU

    Let me first say, I am a Howland fan and supporter and think the calls for him to be gone are ridiculous. That being said, it does fall on him. It’s his team. The kids leaving aren’t because of his coaching or style, I think that claim is missing the point. The problem is, he has made recruiting errors in recruiting to his system. Nelson reportedly had attitude issues in high school. This should be no surprise. Compare his attitued with that of Luc Richard M’bah A Moute. He wasn’t the most highly coveted recruit, but you could not find a better work ethic and example of the “Howland” type player. We need to get back to finding those players and not recruiting the Drew Gordons and the Reeves Nelsons. Chip Kelly at Oregon recruits kids to fit his system in football. Ben needs to get back to what brought him 3 Final Fours.

  • Semi-Pro

    It’s easy to blame Howland when a player has attitude issues and say “Well…he’s the one who recruited Nelson!”

    The problem with that though is a LOT of schools recruited Reeves and would have been thrilled if he had signed his LOI with their program. At the end of the day, highly recruited players CHOOSE where they go to school…and they picked Howland as much, if not more, than Howland picked them.

  • Anonymous

    Jon, you do a great job on football, but UCLA is a basketball school. Howland has lost control of his team and their are barely any post about basketball.

  • Trojan Conquest

    I like that Howland runs a tight ship. This is a problem with this generation’s top players. They have always been told how special they are, and never had to answer for their actions. In fairness, how many Bruins were critical of USC for Dillon Baxter? Sometimes it’s better to cut your losses with a player.
    Also, top programs in basketball have a problem with recruiting because of the 1-and-done rule. It’s tough to build a program when players can bolt after one year. I believe it would be in the interest of both the NCAA and the NBA if they enacted the same rules as college baseball. Let them go to the NBA directly out of high school, but if they go to college then they aren’t eligible for the draft until after 3 years.

  • Anonymous

    Howland’s Issues

    – Stubbornly refuses to play zone, press, run fast break making it very predictable/easy for the opposition on offense and defense

    On offense, every UCLA line-up has had trouble against a zone or trap because they probably never practice it.

    On defense, with the right personal Howland’s help side man can be effective with most teams however good coaches like Donovan at Florida and Beiglign at Michigan always beat Howland because they know how to expolit that D effectively. You always have to show a team different looks.

    – Burns too many time-outs, hurting good runs and “to the wire games”

    – Five players leaving in last few years Players is an indication of something dysfuntional period.

  • Anonymous

    Howland’s problem is that he keeps the less talented players and chases away the talented players. When you have a constant outflow like this you have to question the coach at some point. I’m all for running a tight ship but this is getting to be ridiculous. Also, where is the due diligence during the recruiting phase? Howland is not a good enough recruiter to get away with stuff like this. The Luc’s and Westbrook’s of the world are not going to land on his lap again.

  • PeterUCLA

    Anyone who has seen Reeve’s demeanor up close cannot be surprised by this. He’s not a very nice guy, lacks emotional control and discipline, and has a poor attitude overall.

    Talent means nothing if you can’t comport yourself properly as part of team, program, and university. Otherwise, you end up like $C.

  • bibs

    Many of the critics on this blog have never had kids of their own or coached young people.It’s very hard to coach a team and put up with players who only want to be “the man”.Howland has a system that is very effective and has lost players who were unwilling to play in a system.There is no one size fits all in life and good teachers and coaches know when to work with young people and when to cut them loose.Too many players want to go pro before they are even capable of playing well in college.This creates a lot of problems that would be eliminated if the one and done rule were eliminated.Many of you aren’t old enough to remember that Coach Wooden had to deal with a lot of players and dropped many of them.


    Peter, you end up like SC, which owns UCLA in football and basketball, and volleyball, and water polo, and just about every other sport. 6-8 its gonna be great! 6-8 its gonna be great! 6-8 its gonna be great!

  • Anonymous

    Fightontovictory – Cheat on to victory!

  • post move

    Who’s at fault for Joshua Smith coming into the year about 40 lbs. overweight?

    CBH knew the kid had a weight problem when he entered the program. Now the Bruins have 40% of their starting lineup and about 40% of their scoring load missing.

    I say play Lane and Stover, rewarding them for playing to their potential and let the Inkster (Nelson) and the Oinkster (Smith) get limited minutes until they prove their worth one way or the other.