UCLA Coach Ben Howland has reinstated Nikola Dragovic, the senior forward who is facing a felony assault charge in connection with a fight at a Hollywood concert last month.
Dragovic missed the previous two games but will return to action against Portland in the first round of the 76 Classic tournament Thursday. Howland said Dragovic will not start but is expected to play off the bench.
"Based on what we know right now, we thought it was the right decision to allow him to play," the coach said.
Per Jon Gold, Howland made the decision after consulting with Dan Guerrero:
Dragovic hasn't practiced since Thursday, though he's attended practice since Monday. He's been doing some running, conditioning and shooting to stay in shape, but James Keefe will continue to start.
"Based on the information we have right now, what we know about the situation, I sat down with Dan, and we just felt like we thought it was the right decision to allow him to play," UCLA head coach Ben Howland said. "I sit down with my bosses and discuss; it's not just my decision."
Honestly, I personally don't feel comfortable with this decision. I would have preferred that Dragovic serve an indefinite suspension until his legal issues were cleared up. I also think having him on the team right now is a distraction that can blow up even more. That said Coach Howland gets the benefit of doubt given the kind of rock solid reputation on which he has built our program.Coach Howland has earned the collective confidence from Bruins Nation on his ability to make the right decision based on the facts he has infront of him. So hopefully, Dragovic's situation will get resolved and he will finish out his UCLA career living up the standards set by our Ben Ball warriors on and off court (hey may be he can teach something to his fellow students about protecting the Bruin on campus, joking).
Anyway, in terms of on court action JK is going to get the start. Frankly I hope he gets the majority of the starting mins our offense flows better with him on the court. He has better defensive instincts. In other words, JK gives us more complete package on the court. It will be interesting to see how the mins shape up tomorrow night against a very tough Portland team, which will be giving Gonzaga a run for their money and already have victory against Oregon in their resume this season. More on them later.