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UCLA basketball: Ben Howland meeting with Reeves Nelson; status on team unclear

NelsonUCLA Coach Ben Howland said he would meet with junior forward Reeves Nelson on Monday afternoon to discuss a variety of issues, and Nelson's status on the team remained unclear.

Asked what the meeting was about, Howland said, "Just his behavior after the game [against Loyola Marymount], for example, walking off the court the other day, a number of things of that nature."

Will Nelson be in uniform for UCLA when the Bruins (0-1) play host to Middle Tennessee State (2-0) on Tuesday night at the Sports Arena?

"I can’t comment any further until I sit and talk to him," Howland said.

Nelson, the Bruins' returning leading scorer and rebounder from last season, appeared frustrated for much of UCLA's season-opening 69-58 loss to Loyola Marymount. He finished with 13 points and eight rebounds, missing all three three-point attempts he took.

Sophomore center Joshua Smith said the Bruins were "going to keep practicing" despite the uncertainty regarding Nelson's situation.

"I really don't know how he's feeling right now, to be honest," Smith said. "I still take it as he's part of the team."

Asked whether he had spoken to Nelson about his status, Smith appeared to indicate that Nelson was thinking of quitting the team.

"I’ve talked to him, but there’s not really any information to tell me where he’s leaning," Smith said. "I want him to stay."

Nelson has been an enigmatic figure for much of his UCLA career, sulking when things aren't going well on the court and occasionally berating his teammates. He threw the ball in teammate Brendan Lane's chest during a game last year.

Nelson can also be one of the most galvanizing players on the team, firing up the crowd with hand gestures and playing tight defense when inclined to do so. He was a first-team All-Pacific 10 Conference player last season and a big reason the Bruins were picked by the media as the preseason favorite this year in the Pac-12.

We'll have more later at www.latimes.com/sports.

RELATED:

UCLA takes another step back in football

T.J. Simers: Rick Neuheisel is running out of time and excuses

--Ben Bolch

Photo: Reeves Nelson. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times.

 
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