junior center Joshua Smith has quit the Bruins basketball team, the
school announced Wednesday, thus ending his up-and-down career in
Westwood that has been plagued by weight and conditioning issues.
“I have made the decision to leave the program for personal reasons,”
Smith said in a statement. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at UCLA
and am grateful for the opportunity that has been presented to me here.”
Smith has been granted his release, effective immediately. It is
unclear if he will stay in school at UCLA or if he intends to transfer.
A person close to the team confirmed that the 6-foot-10, 300-plus-pound
Smith did not practice Tuesday because of “weight issues,” which has
been an issue for the junior during his time with the Bruins.
Another person close to the situation said that Smith was mulling over
whether to quit the team Tuesday, and that he met with Coach Ben Howland
on Wednesday to discuss his future at UCLA.
“Joshua is a
fine young man who has meant a lot to this program,” Howland said in a
statement. “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.”
Smith, a Kent, Wash., native, came to UCLA with McDonald’s All-American honors and was ranked by ESPN
as the No. 1 center recruit in the country. Rivals.com ranked him as
the No. 3 center nationally and Scout.com ranked him as the No. 4 center
Smith’s production slipped in each of his
seasons at UCLA. He played in all of UCLA’s six games this
season, averaging 5.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in 13.5 minutes.
UCLA has eight scholarship players left: four are freshmen, three are
transfers from North Carolina and the other is Norman Powell.
Smith’s transfer follows the recent departure of Tyler Lamb, who announced he was leaving the team Sunday.