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Report: Joshua Smith to leave the UCLA program

Nov 28, 2012, 4:08 PM EDT

Joshua Smith, Brian Bennett, Chris O'Brien

According to a report from Tracy Pierson of BruinReportOnline, Joshua Smith has left the UCLA program.

Smith didn’t show up to practice Tuesday, and Wednesday indicated to the UCLA coaches he intended to leave the program.

The coaching staff then tried to convince him to stay, but many sources are telling us Smith has decided to leave, and has informed UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero of his decision.

“Joshua is a fine young man who has meant a lot to this program,” said UCLA head coach Ben 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 was a disappointment throughout his career in Westwood. He’s got the talent to be an all-american and a top ten pick in the NBA Draft, but he simply was never able to get himself in good enough shape to do so.

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

This is yet another hit for Ben Howland’s program, which has looked quite a bit different than the team that some projected as a national title contender in the preseason. They are coming off of a two-point home loss to Cal Poly in which they were outscored 37-17 in the final 12 minutes and are nothing like the defensive stalwarts that Howland took to three straight Final Fours. Smith is also the second player to transfer out of the program this week, as Tyler Lamb left the team on Monday.

Here’s to hoping Smith finds someplace to land on his feet. Frankly, this may be the best move for his career. Howland has clearly been unable to get through to him or get him in shape. He needs a fresh start.

I no longer make jokes about Smith’s weight, and I’d encourage you not to, either. Watching someone throw away talent that could earn them millions of dollars because they are unable to control their eating habits isn’t funny. It is sad.

  1. bobulated - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    Any truth to rumor he’s going straight into MLE?

  2. lew24 - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    Sad but very true!

    This team has gone from title contenders to a team that is crashing and burning!

    Howland has lost this team!

  3. pacific123ocean - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    Good luck Josh. I really hope he finds a program and coaches that can motivate him to get in shape!

  4. 93warchant - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    seriously that airball layup he was trying to make 3 weeks ago is just embarrassing. he has got to drop 40 pounds before I would offer him a scholarship to play hoop unless he want to be a offensive guard in football.

  5. schlom - Nov 28, 2012 at 8:38 PM

    I’m curious on whether UCLA will be able to attract a big name coach when they fire Howland or if they will have to settle for a lower level retread like the football team.

  6. seanb20124 - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    It’s UCLA, would not be surprised if Calipari took that job.

  7. coach1959 - Nov 29, 2012 at 1:12 AM

    seanb20124, why would any wealthy coach at a major/elite university want to move to California, the worst run state in this country? The pressure is high at Kentucky; ditto for UCLA. Calipari taking the UCLA coaching position would be a demotion.

    • florida727 - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:24 AM

      With all due respect to your critics “coach1959:, you’re spot on. Kentucky IS the elite coaching position in the country right now, and it will be for some time to come. Calipari won’t leave. He’s absolutely loved there and has a great thing going. Elite players line-up for a chance to play for him because they know he’s a stepping stone to the NBA for them. Coach Cal has the “easiest” recruiting job in America. He’s the only guy I can think of that can turn down 5-star recruits and have others waiting to take their place. Taking the UCLA job would be a demotion for him, whether Bruin fans’ egos want to believe that or not. Kentucky may not win the NCAA title every year, but they will throw 3 or 4 or 5 first round draft picks into the NBA every year thanks to the new rules allowing the one-and-done. Get used it folks. It won’t change anytime soon. Oh, FYI, I’m not a Kentucky fan; I’m a Florida fan. I have to suffer through watching UK 2-3 times per year get the best of my favorite team. But I respect/acknowledge what Calipari is doing.

  8. Jason M. - Nov 29, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    I wonder how much In N Out Burgers in the area will miss his repeat business?

  9. nmrdr795 - Dec 1, 2012 at 12:50 AM

    Welcome to the New Mexico Lobos big fella, where bruins(boys) come to be men(Lobos). Lobos have a great conditioning coach, he helps many top UFC fights get into shape. Nothing to do here but focus on sports. Hope to see you soon son.

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