About Clay Fowler

Clay Fowler is a Dallas native, graduated from the University of Texas and worked in Central Texas for two years before joining the Daily Bulletin staff in 2006.

Reports: Steve Alford to stay at UCLA, won’t leave for Indiana

Steve Alford confirmed Friday night that he is not leaving for Indiana.

Steve Alford is staying at UCLA, according to multiple reports. Amid speculation the UCLA coach would leave to fill alma mater Indiana’s opening, Alford dismissed the notion Friday night after the Bruins’ loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16.

He later told reporters that he was “100 percent committed” to UCLA, even going to far as to tell ESPN “I am not going to talk to Indiana.” But Alford wasn’t absolutely definitive at the podium following the game.

“I’m at UCLA,” Alford said. “I don’t know a lot of people that want to leave UCLA. This is a pretty special place.”

Alford cited the No. 2 recruiting class in the country UCLA signed this year and the Mo Ostin Basketball Center, UCLA’s new practice facility set complete construction before next season.

“I’ve worked awfully hard to be a part of that and I want to see that through,” Alford said. “And we’ve got some special kids that are coming to join us. So, I’m very, very happy where I’m at and hopefully that will continue.”

Why Alford waited until after UCLA’s loss to confirm the he isn’t leaving for Indiana is curious.

He was first asked about the opening on March 16, the eve of the Bruins’ NCAA tournament opener. Alford was vague, stating that he loved UCLA, but choosing his words carefully so as not to deny a potential departure for Indiana.

He put everything to rest Friday night.

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Lonzo Ball confirms he’s leaving UCLA for the NBA

Immediately following UCLA’s Sweet 16 loss to Kentucky Friday night, Lonzo Ball announced he would declare for the 2017 NBA draft.

“That was my final game at UCLA,” he said. “I appreciate all the fans.”

LaVar Ball, Lonzo’s father, maintained before the season even began that his oldest son would only play one season at UCLA. The alacrity with which the Bruins All-America point guard declared his decision was probably an indication Lonzo knew all along.

“I have so many memories, I can’t tell you all,” Ball said. “Started in Australia and at the end of the day, this is a family. We’ll be together for life and I’ve built relationships for life.”

Ball averaged 14.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and a nation-leading 7.6 assists during his freshman season, the only player in college basketball to achieve such numbers.

Steve Alford seemed well aware of the arrangement from the beginning, speaking throughout the season as if Ball would leave for the NBA after one season. Continue reading “Lonzo Ball confirms he’s leaving UCLA for the NBA” »

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Game day links: Basketball royalty clashes in Sweet 16

UCLA has won its last two meetings with Kentucky, including a 97-92 win earlier this season

Nineteen years ago there were only 17 national championships between them when they met in the Sweet 16. Tonight, UCLA and Kentucky will break their own record.

When the second-seeded Wildcats play the third-seeded Bruins in the NCAA tournament South Regional Semifinal in Memphis, Tenn., their 19 national championships combined will be the most ever between NCAA tournament opponents.

UCLA leads college basketball with 11. Kentucky has eight, two of which it claimed since meeting UCLA in the Sweet 16 in 1998. The Wildcats beat the Bruins by 26 on the way to the ’98 championship and added another title in 2012.

These programs have plenty of recent history, too. Tonight will be the fourth time UCLA and Kentucky have played in the last three seasons. The Bruins have won the last two, including a 97-92 triumph over the then-No. 1 team in the country at Rupp Arena earlier this season. If UCLA emerges victorious again tonight, it will be hard to argue that was a fluke.

Game day links:

  • Beyond biggest game of Steve Alford’s career, future is murky
  • How will UCLA’s win at Kentucky Dec. 3 effect tonight’s game?
  • UCLA, Kentucky both have too much talent at one position
  • Mark Whicker on the lasting effects of UCLA’s trip to Australia
  • Mark Whicker on Steve Alford’s looming decision about Indiana
  • Lonzo Ball on the verge of surpassing Jason Kidd’s assist mark
  • Video: TJ Leaf and Lonzo Ball on facing Kentucky
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  • Is this the most important game of Steve Alford’s career?

    Lonzo Ball is one of six players in UCLA’s regular rotation who could depart in the offseason

    The future couldn’t be more uncertain for Steve Alford. That makes right now all that much more important for UCLA’s basketball coach.

    Alford doesn’t know who’s going to be on his roster next season – or what color jerseys they’ll be wearing.

    Whether or not Alford leaves for Indiana, he may never have a better opportunity to win his first Sweet 16 game than Friday night. It’s safe to say the 2016-17 Bruins are the best roster he’s ever assembled. Of the three previous times he reached the Sweet 16, two were with UCLA and one was with Southwest Missouri State.

    The group he will trot out tonight against No. 2 seed Kentucky in the South regional semifinal likely features four future NBA players and the fifth-leading scorer in UCLA history.

    Bryce Alford, the only UCLA player on each of the previous Sweet 16 teams, is graduating behind only Don MacLean, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Reggie Miller and Jason Kapono on UCLA’s career scoring list. Senior Isaac Hamilton would likely be right there with him had he not sat out his freshman year after a messy transfer from UTEP.

    Lonzo Ball is sure to leave for the NBA. TJ Leaf will likely join him as a lottery pick. Freshman Ike Anigbogu could also be on his way out after one season and junior center Thomas Welsh seems bound for the NBA this year or next.

    “I don’t think there’s going to be another team like this in a while,” Ball said. “This is our opportunity and we’ve got to take it.”

    Yes, Alford signed the No. 2 recruiting class in the country for next season. The chances it includes another transcendent talent like Ball are slim. Two of its members being lottery picks is equally unlikely. UCLA may be good next season, just not this good. Of course, Alford may not be around to see it.

    “You almost don’t want to think about it,” Steve Alford said. “You don’t ever want it to end. So there’s an urgency, one, as coaches in preparation. But then, as a team, you want to relax them too, so they don’t feel it.”

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