Nelson questionable for weekend games

Updated: February 24, 2010, 12:59 AM ET
By Ramona Shelburne | ESPNLosAngeles.com

UCLA freshman center Reeves Nelson did not practice Tuesday after having laser eye surgery a day earlier to repair a slight tear in his left retina. He is questionable for the Bruins' final two home games Thursday against Oregon State and Saturday against Oregon.

UCLA coach Ben Howland said Nelson, who is averaging 11.0 points and 5.5 rebounds, would be reevaluated Wednesday.

"As of right now, we're planning on him not being out there because he's not at practice," Howland said. "They're going to reevaluate his eye, but we will err on the side of caution."

What's odd about the injury is that it's actually on Nelson's left eye. He'd been poked, elbowed and slammed to the ground on his right eye at various points this season, suffering at least two black eyes. But Howland said doctors speculated this injury happened in the Bruins' win at Washington State last Thursday when Nelson fell to the ground after a slam dunk, landing on the right side of his head.

"What they think is, from the violent collision of his head on the ground, that jarring is what did it," Howland said. "The reason they know this is a new injury rather than something that could happen who knows when, is there was a tiny bit of blood. I thought for sure they'd be saying there was something wrong with his right eye if there was anything wrong with his eye."

The injury was discovered when doctors examined Nelson's right eye Monday morning and took a look at his left eye for comparison.

"There were no symptoms; when he had his regular follow-up set up for him for his right eye, just through the normal thorough investigation, they look at both eyes," Howland said. "Reeves had no idea there was something with the [left] eye."

Nelson will need to wear protective goggles upon his return.

Meanwhile, UCLA's already thin frontcourt got even thinner Tuesday night when freshman forward Brendan Lane sprained his ankle on the final play of practice. He was expected to play an increased role with Nelson recovering and senior forward James Keefe out for the year with a shoulder injury.

Lane is in a boot and will not practice Wednesday, according to a school spokesman. He will be a game-time decision Thursday against Oregon State.

Ramona Shelburne is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

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