Josh Smith to Georgetown

Per CBSSports, Josh Smith will be transferring to Georgetown after leaving UCLA in late November. The talented but underachieving center was a Freshman All-American before seeing his waistline swell and his minutes dip over the next two seasons. He averaged just 5.2 points and 4.2 rebounds as a junior, down from 10.9 and 6.3 in his debut campaign.

Leaving just three days after guard Tyler Lamb also announced his departure, Smith cited “personal reasons” for his decision to quit the UCLA basketball team.

The Washington native picked the Hoyas over Kansas. Some time under John Thompson III at Georgetown should provide some structure, and might even help Smith turn his career around. Smith may have been chronically overweight, but he was still a legitimate big man with soft hands and rare ball skills. The former five-star recruit will be eligible after sitting out a year, or he could elect to redshirt until the 2014-15 season to get a full season.

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UCLA 82, CSUN 56: A post-Smith world

LOS ANGELES — In beating Cal State Northridge 82-56, UCLA finally played the way it was supposed to against the Big West. The Bruins still had sloppy moments on both ends of the court, but after recent debacles against Cal Poly and UC Irvine, the Wednesday night victory appeared to be a long stride forward.

But the news everyone wanted to discuss was the departure of Josh Smith, the second player to leave the program in four days. (Tyler Lamb announced his intent to transfer on Sunday.) Ironically, Smith was plastered all over the cover of the game program.

UCLA now has just eight scholarship players on its roster. And with Tony Parker’s sprained ankle, they may even have just seven available against San Diego State on Saturday.

Program gone wrong? Quote of the night, courtesy of Shabazz Muhammad: “I think Ben is the perfect guy for us.”

The players, predictably enough, tried to dismiss any talk of bad locker room chemistry. Travis Wear said that the guys all like each other and hang out together. Norman Powell said that UCLA will continue to be a top destination for recruits.

But it’s hard to argue against the recent exodus, all since 2008: Chace Stanback (UNLV), Drew Gordon (New Mexico), Mike Moser (UNLV), Matt Carlino (BYU), J’Mison Morgan (Baylor), Brendan Lane (Pepperdine), De’End Parker (USF), Anthony Stover, Reeves Nelson. Some were dismissals, but the sheer number is still stunning.

At this point, the Bruins have effectively cleared the roster of anyone involved with the program during the time documented by Sports Illustrated. The main holdover? Ben Howland.

Shed weight: It’s easy to make jokes about how much thinner the Bruins are in the frontcourt without Josh Smith. Travis Wear even made a few puns in the postgame press conference, although those could have very well been unintentional.

Smith hasn’t contributed much on the court, his numbers declining each year since his All-Pac-10 Freshman introduction that ended with a third-round NCAA loss to Florida. His 5.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game are hardly irreplaceable. (His career, both the good and the bad, are summed up well in this airballed layup. Skilled enough to take the ball upcourt, too heavy to finish.)

But just who exactly will replace them? The obvious candidate is Tony Parker, but he was bothered by back spasms last week and sprained his ankle during Wednesday’s warm-ups. He ended the game with a boot on his left foot, playing just one minute. Howland said the trainer didn’t believe the injury to be serious.

With no true big men available, UCLA was able to run a relatively effective up-tempo offense for the first time this season. Playing CSUN helped, of course, but there still were moments like Muhammad shaking a defender to go up for a dunk. Or a wild sequence that saw Norman Powell tipping the ball away at halfcourt, Jordan Adams diving to the ground to grab it before flipping it to Larry Drew, and Drew then swinging an alley-oop pass up to Powell.

Zone defense: Howland confirmed that the team will indeed play more zone defense, although it will not completely abandon man-to-man. Nearly every player looked more capable in the zone, but Kyle Anderson stood out in particular. His utilized his length well and didn’t have to fight through screens. The result was three steals and two blocks — all in the first half.

The caveat is that Cal State Northridge was having an absolutely atrocious shooting night. The Matadors front-rimmed shots from all over the court, from uncontested 3-pointers to running floaters. Few teams will be so kind as to convert just 32.9 percent of their shots.

Starting lineup: Ben Howland said he put both Kyle Anderson and Larry Drew in the starting lineup because he expected more pressure and wanted both his ballhandlers on the court. He then continued to emphasize that the starting five doesn’t matter that much because everyone will get minutes. (This is especially true now that Josh Smith and Tyler Lamb are both gone.) Jordan Adams also started for the first time, but didn’t see an uptick in looks: 8 points on 3/5 shooting.

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Official UCLA statements on Josh Smith

Head coach Ben Howland: “Joshua is a fine young man who has meant a lot to this program. 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.”

Josh Smith: “I have made the decision to leave the program for personal reasons. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at UCLA and am grateful for the opportunity that has been presented to me here.”

This is a disappointing, if unsurprising end to Smith’s career. The junior center has to take the bulk for the blame for failing to get himself in shape, but what a mess Howland’s program has quickly become. Two transfers in four days? If players want to get away from you that badly, you probably won’t be around much longer either.

Freshman Tony Parker, who has averaged 8.4 minutes so far this season, will probably sop up some extra time on the court. He could probably double his playing time easily if it weren’t for the back spasms that have bothered him lately.

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Josh Smith leaving UCLA

UCLA center Josh Smith is transferring from UCLA, becoming the second Bruin to leave the program in less than a week.

According to BruinReportOnline, Smith told athletic director Dan Guerrero his decision Wednesday. The 6-foot-10 junior did not show up to practice Tuesday.

The once promising NBA prospect has struggled with weight after being named to the All-Pac-10 Freshman team. He reportedly was working to slim down over the offseason, but didn’t produce results — or look more svelte — when he stepped on the court. Through six games, he averaged 5.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in 13.5 minutes. He averaged 10.9 points as a freshman and 9.9 as a sophomore.

His departure comes just three days after junior guard Tyler Lamb announced his intent to transfer. Lamb had played just 14 minutes this year after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, scoring four points in the season opener against Indiana State.

The team now has just eight scholarship players on its roster. Smith and Lamb were also the only players who had played in old Pauley Pavilion.

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Josh Smith a Bruin

Junior wide receiver Josh Smith has officially transferred to UCLA and is expected to join the Bruin football team in the next day or two.

In 2008, he set a Colorado record with 1,987 all-purpose yards and earned honorable mention All-Big 12 acclaim as a kick returner. He also set school records with 50 kickoff returns for 1,276 yards (25.5 average) and averaged 10.4 yards on 28 punt returns.

The Moorpark High product is also a receiver, averaging 16.1 yards on 52 receptions at Colorado.

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