“If you look at our brand professionally, we’ve put the most players in the NBA, we’ve produced the most NBA All-Stars. It’s just phenomenal when you research and look at the brand at UCLA and look how players get exposure here to the next level. If you’re going to a place like UCLA, you’ve got dreams of playing at the next level,” Alford told SI.
Alford took over in Westwood after stops at Southeast Missouri State and Iowa preceded a six-year run at New Mexico, and his Bruins went 28-9 in 2013-14, winning the Pac-12 tournament and reaching the NCAA tournament Sweet 16.
“If you’re going to a place like UCLA, you’ve got dreams of playing at the next level. We had pro scouts at 85 percent of all of our practices this year. I don’t know of another program that can voice that kind of exposure,” he said.
Alford himself played in the NBA for 4 seasons, for Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors. He played a total of 169 NBA games (4 started), averaging 4.4 ppg in 9.7 mpg.
Alford said he’s been fortunate enough to be part of different programs and learn along the way.
“This is my first year at UCLA, but it’s my 24th year coming up. I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve started five different programs that I’ve taken over now. I’ve been able at each stop to learn more of what I wanted to do, as far as what we want to instill, the culture we wanted to build,” he said.
“Yeah, it’s different – it’s Los Angeles, I’ve been in the Midwest, I’ve been in the Southwest, and now I’m in the West. Each stop is different and presents different challenges. But I’ve done it so much now, I guess, that the transition was very smooth,” he said.
Speaking of UCLA, Alford said he knew a .lot coming into the situation about UCLA.
“You look collegiately, UCLA is No. 1 in most national titles, we’ve won the most Pac-12 titles, educationally from an academic standpoint, just about any field of study a student athlete wants to go into, we’re top 10 in the country. When you look at our brand collegiately, we’re at the top,” he said.
Earlier this year, in April of 2014, Alford expressed criticism and regret towards players who leave college only after one year to pursue a dream to play in the NBA.
“Sometimes it’s forgotten that players are coming to college to get a degree. A freshman has only about 25 percent of his degree completed. They go off to play professional basketball and to assume they will come back and get the degree done five, six, seven years later, I don’t see that happening,” he said at the time.
Alford said “very few players are ready after one year of college.” He would prefer that players be allowed to declare out of high school or be required to play two seasons if they go to college.
“There are very few LeBron James and Kobe Bryants,” Alford said. “Those who are ready should have the opportunity. Staying a second year helps on a lot of different fronts, socially, physically, mentally.”
Alford estimates that after two years of college, most players are “55-60 percent toward their degree.”Follow @exnbadotcom
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