UCLA announced this morning that it hired Steve Alford to coach the men’s basketball team. He will be formally introduced Tuesday at a news conference.
He replaces Ben Howland, who was fired last week.
Alford, 48, spent the last six seasons at New Mexico, compiling a 155-52 record.
Early chatter would seem to indicate this hire had as much to do with UCLA re-establishing itself as a giant in the Southern California recruiting as it did with Xs and Os or wins and losses. Six of the last seven California natives to commit to Howland didn’t finish their career with the Bruins. The appeal of the program to LA prospects is believed to have diminished over the years.
Here’s a look at some of the top 2014 prospects Alford was recruiting to New Mexico: SG Zylan Cheatham, PG Jordan McLaughlin, PG Josh Perkins and PF Evan Fitzner.
Meanwhile, USC is reportedly zeroing in on Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield. It’s amazing what two wins in the NCAA tournament will do for one’s resume.
AROUND THE PAC-12:
— Here’s Alford’s official bio on the UCLA website.
— According to the Los Angeles Times, Alford signed a seven-year deal worth $18.2 million. He also receives a $200,000 signing bonus. His $2.6 million annual salary makes him the highest paid coach in the Pac-12.
— USA Today reports: “Ten days ago, Alford signed a 10-year deal with New Mexico, supposedly keeping him with the Lobos through 2023 with a $240,000 raise to bring his salary to approximately $1 million per year.” Other news outlets are reporting Alford agreed to the deal with the Lobos, but did not sign the contract.
— Jeff Goodman at CBSsports.com believes Alford is a good hire. Goodman writes: “He can coach, recruit and has the ego necessary to handle this job. What else do you need? Players. He’ll have plenty of those, also.”
— Alford’s New Mexico teams averaged 27 wins the past four years with a half-court oriented approach. UCLA hoped to hire a coach with an up-tempo style, but they got a coach whose teams don’t exactly light up the scoreboard with points.
— Jeff Eisenberg at Yahoo.com wonders if Alford will be able to persuade star 2013 recruit Aaron Gordon to reconsider UCLA. He’s expected to decided April 3 between Washington, Arizona, Oregon and Kentucky.