Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

UCLA Basketball: Josh Smith Leaves Program

In shocking news, UCLA center Josh Smith has left the basketball program.

The oft-maligned big man apparently left for personal reasons. Here’s a statement from UCLA:

UCLA junior center Joshua Smith has chosen to leave the men’s basketball program and has been granted his release, effective immediately.

Smith participated in all six contests UCLA has played in thus far in the 2012-13 season and averaged 5.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in 13.5 minutes played.

“Joshua is a fine young man who has meant a lot to this program,” said UCLA head coach Ben Howland. “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.”

A native of Kent, Washington, Smith entered his junior season with the Bruins averaging 10.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 19.5 minutes played in 65 career games (24 starts) over his first two years in Westwood.

“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 will be discussed a lot and adds to the strikes against Ben Howland in terms of the players that have left his program.

We’ll have more on this soon.

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