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.