Reeves Nelson, UCLA's leading scorer and rebounder a year ago, and a Sports Illustrated cover subject on its basketball issue two months ago, has been dismissed from the UCLA basketball team, Coach Ben Howland announced Friday.
Nelson, a 6-foot-9 junior forward from Modesto, was in the process of serving his second suspension of this season when he and Howland met Friday after Nelson finished final exams.
"After much thought and deliberation, I have made the decision to dismiss Reeves Nelson from the UCLA men's basketball team effective immediately," Howland said in a statement.
Both suspensions this season had come because of insubordinate behavior. In what turned out to be his final game for UCLA last Saturday, a 69-59 loss to Texas, Nelson spent the entire second half on the bench and was seen laughing and pointing to a small group of people in the crowd at the Sports Arena that was chanting his name near the end of the game.
Tuesday, a day after Nelson was suspended for the second time, Howland said there were defined things Nelson needed to do to begin practicing and playing again.
"He needs to stay consistent," Howland said. "The last time he was suspended, when we did bring him back, he had the best practice the first practice, the first day back. Last week’s practices, he was falling back into the same habits.
"It's definitely a distraction and we don’t need any distractions. It’s tough enough to come together without being distracted. It’s a tough situation with them (the team) because many of them are close friends with Reeves off the floor."
UCLA (2-5) plays its next game at 4 p.m. Saturday against Pennsylvania at the Honda Center.
-- Diane Pucin
Photo: Reeves Nelson. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times