UCLA’s Matt Carlino announces plans to transfer

Matt Carlino hurried up, only to wait.

The freshman shooting guard who graduated from high school a year early to enroll at UCLA never played in seven games before telling Coach Ben Howland this week that he would transfer at the end of the quarter.

Carlino has returned home to the Phoenix area, leaving the Bruins with nine available scholarship players.

“I’m obviously disappointed because it leaves us short-handed,” Howland said Friday during a teleconference.


Carlino was not medically cleared to play in the Bruins’ first three games after sustaining a concussion in practice Nov. 8. Howland then decided not to play Carlino against Villanova or Virginia Commonwealth because of Carlino’s limited practice time.

Howland also held Carlino out against Kansas because the coach did not feel comfortable letting Carlino make his college debut on the road against the fourth-ranked Jayhawks. But Howland said he regretted not letting Carlino play during the Bruins’ 66-57 loss to Montana on Sunday.

“I probably should have played him in the Montana game and we might not be having this discussion,” Howland said.

But Carlino didn’t play, and his father, Mark, came to campus this week to meet with Howland. Matt Carlino said in a statement that he had not picked a new school.

“I believe a new destination would be much healthier for me both personally and athletically,” Carlino said. “I sincerely apologize to all those, especially those closest to me, who may find my decision disappointing.”

Head games

Howland said he had spoken with sophomore Reeves Nelson about the forward’s tendency to sulk when things aren’t going to his liking.

“So much of his stuff when he’s not doing well is mental,” Howland said. “He gets down, he drops his head and it only is a self-defeating thing when he starts to do that.”

There’s been a lot of brooding lately. After a stretch of four consecutive games in which Nelson tallied double-doubles, his production plummeted during losses to Kansas and Montana.

There was a five-point, five-rebound effort against the Jayhawks offset somewhat by what Howland called “maybe the best defensive effort of his career,” followed by a five-point, six-rebound game against the Grizzlies in which Nelson repeatedly missed layups and put up little fight when a Montana player tried to tug the ball away in the second half.

But Howland said he was encouraged by Nelson’s play in practice this week for the Bruins, who are on a four-game losing streak.

Change of venue?

The proposed sale of the Forum to the owners of Madison Square Garden could leave UCLA’s home games in limbo for next season.

The Bruins had reached an informal agreement to play home games in 2011-12 at the Forum while Pauley Pavilion is renovated. But if the Forum is undergoing simultaneous refurbishment, then UCLA would be forced to look elsewhere. Other possible venues include the Honda Center, the Sports Arena and Staples Center.