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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

February 1, 2012 at 11:23 AM

Reeves Nelson gets the boot — again

Former UCLA star Reeves Nelson was released Tuesday by BC Zalgiris after five weeks with the professional basketball team in Lithuania.
In six games, he averaged 2.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 10 minutes. He shot 28 percent from the field, 56 percent on free throws and was 0 for 5 on three-pointers.
According to Jonathan Givony at, Nelson is eligible for the 2012 NBA draft, but he isn’t expected to be selected.
Last season the 6-9 forward was UCLA’s leading scorer (13.9 points per game) and rebounder (9.1) and chosen first-team All-Pac-10.
Before the season, Nelson was featured on a Sports Illustrated cover and was considered one of the brightest stars in the Pac-12. He drew comparisons to former UCLA star Kevin Love.
However, things turned quickly and Nelson began to torpedo a promising career.
On Nov. 15, UCLA suspended Nelson for two days and he sat out one game after he was late for a team meeting and exhibited behavior that was deemed insubordinate.
After being reinstated Nov. 16, Nelson missed the team flight to Hawaii three days later where the Bruins played in the Maui Invitational. He lost his starting job and was a reserve in the next five games. He tallied a season-high 12 in a 72-56 loss to Kansas.
On Dec. 6, UCLA suspended him for a second time. In a statement, the school said Nelson displayed “conduct unbecoming a member of the UCLA basketball team.” Before the suspension, Nelson was seen laughing on the bench during a 69-59 loss to Texas on Dec. 3.
“There were a couple of other things that occurred during that game that were very much inappropriate,” coach Ben Howland told the Los Angeles Times. “I’m not the only one who feels this way. My staff, we’ve talked a lot about this. These distractions take you away from coaching and doing what’s best for our team. As talented as he is, no one is bigger than the team. The team comes first.
On Dec. 9, UCLA dismissed Nelson.
“Reeves behaved poorly,” his mother Sheila Nelson told the LA Times. “He admits to that and he’s taking full responsibility for his actions. He still wants to be on the team. But quite frankly, I love my son, but he just turned 20 and he’s been a boy in a man’s body since he was 14 and there are things he needs to work on, and he will work on them.”
Perhaps its coincidental, but Nelson’s younger brother Raymond, a freshman tight end at UCLA, was also dismissed Jan. 8.
Reeves Nelson was a major reason why UCLA was picked to win the Pac-12, however he averaged just 5.7 points and 4.5 rebounds in just six games.
The Bruins were 2-5 when he was released.
Following Nelson’s dismissal, UCLA won five consecutive games. They are 10-4 without him.
Before Thursday’s game against the Bruins, coach Lorenzo Romar addressed the UCLA situation.

(Are you surprised how much they’ve struggled?) “When you look at the inner dynamics of their team, I wouldn’t say it would surprise me but you could see it happening. Sometimes within a team if you have a player or several players who are not trying to conform to what the team is conforming to, it can present a situation where you’d say what is wrong with that team? They have this, that and this. What’s wrong? But day to day, you’re not in those practices. When you’re in those practices, sometimes you can see the attitude. A lot of damage can be done in the locker room with the kids saying you guys don’t need to listen to coach. He’s this. He’s that. I can’t stand him. It wears you down and all of sudden results that happen in the preseason with them happen. I think they addressed the issue and now they’re playing much better.
(How are they playing now?) “They’re sharing the ball as well as they have all year and they’re playing very, very efficient offense. We said that about Cal when we were getting ready to play Cal. Right now they’re right there with the way they’re playing. They’re cutting and screening. Finding the open man and slipping screens. They’re doing a really nice job.”
(How do you sniff out the locker room problems?) “You have to have a great staff around you, there has to be your captains have to be great captains and leaders. Sooner or later if your ear is to the ground as a head coach you pick up on that stuff. We had an issue – I won’t name the players – we had an issue with two players that one was becoming a bit of a problem with his attitude. One of the worst things is to get on the road and have two guys in there talking until 2 in the morning after a game about how bad everything is. And then that transfers to someone else. We changed roommates. We had this troublemaker with a guy with a phenomenal attitude. And over the course of the year, the good guy wore off on the other guy and it wasn’t a problem any more.
“You have to sit down, you have to lay the law down I think. Once you get wind of it you have to address it now because that can spread like wildfire. There’s some players they have to go because their attitude is not going to change. They just have to go.
“We’re playing Southern Mississippi. I was at Saint Louis. … Before the game we go there early. We were so bored so we went to the gym. So we’re at the gym and there were all of these quotes up there. And there was one that I use with our team to this day. It said physiologically there are many cells in the body that are all designed to help the other cell. When one is down, they come to the rescue and to help the other one. There’s one cell that’s on its own and it goes around eating up the other cells until the body has died. That cell is called cancer. It said CANCER in big dark bold letters. That really hit me.
“A team is like that. You can have everybody working to together and you can have one guy that’s going around shooting down everybody else and pulling everyone down. Next thing you know, another guy is with this one. And then they got 4-5 and now half of the team is rebelling. It all started with that one. And if you don’t remove that one some kind of way, then your team will die. I’ve seen it happen before. And that’s why you have to remove them or they need to change. There needs to be a cure or it has to be removed.”

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