UCLA releases Joshua Smith

Updated: November 28, 2012, 7:44 PM ET
By Peter Yoon | ESPNLosAngeles.com

UCLA granted center Joshua Smith's request to be released from the team Wednesday, continuing what already has been a tumultuous season for the Bruins.

Smith, a 6-foot-10 junior, was among the nation's top recruits three years ago but has struggled with conditioning issues since his arrival at UCLA. He is the second player to leave the team in the past week, joining junior Tyler Lamb, who announced his intention to transfer on Sunday.

"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 played in all six games this season for the Bruins (4-2) and was averaging 5.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in 13.5 minutes. He hasn't started a game, and his conditioning issues have led to an inordinate number of fouls (13 in 81 minutes).

After a promising freshman season in which he earned Pac-10 All-Freshman honors, Smith slipped considerably last season, averaging 9.9 points and 4.9 rebounds.

This summer, Smith blamed conditioning and struggles with weight for his problems and vowed to be on the court more after seeing his minutes drop to 17.2 per game after playing 21.7 as a freshman.

"Joshua is a fine young man who has meant a lot to this program," UCLA 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."

The Bruins had high expectations entering this season, with the nation's No. 1 recruiting class joining their established veterans. UCLA has struggled early, however, needing overtime to defeat UC Irvine and then losing Sunday to Cal Poly.

The departures of Lamb and Smith came on the heels of investigations into Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson, the top two freshmen in the class. Anderson was cleared before the season and Muhammad was reinstated after sitting out three games.

UCLA now has only eight scholarship players on the roster and four of them, Muhammad, Anderson, Jordan Adams and Tony Parker, are true freshmen. The others are David Wear, Travis Wear, Norman Powell and Larry Drew II.

Peter Yoon

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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