Since leaving UCLA as a three-time all-conference point guard, Darren Collison has carved out what looks to be a promising pro career. Now 25, the former Bruin made the All-Rookie team in 2010 after the New Orleans Hornets drafted him 21st overall, and is a restricted free agent after averaging 12 points and 5.1 assists in his fourth season.
He returned to the Los Angeles area recently, where he’s been busy with interviews as well as preparing his youth basketball camp. I talked to him this week about his season with the Dallas Mavericks, his thoughts on Ben Howland and Steve Alford, as well as a UCLA flashback.
Q: What have you been up to this summer?
I’ve just been chillin’ at my parents house in the Inland Empire. I actually started working out a little bit earlier than usual. I watch every (playoff) game. Every game. I told myself that I wouldn’t, because we didn’t make the playoffs, but I’ve been glued to that TV. Oh yeah, by far. I realized how tough it is. I missed the playoffs my first year, but after being in the playoffs my next two years, it made me miss it.
Q: What was your favorite series?
My favorite series would definitely be the Warriors and San Antonio. Or Warriors and Denver. The Warriors were just an incredible team in the playoffs. I definitely had fun watching them.
Since April, shooting guard Norman Powell has indicated multiple times that he thought about transferring to San Diego State had UCLA not fired Ben Howland.
On Wednesday, Powell said he likely would have stayed no matter who replaced the former coach.
“I’m not going to say too much about how I felt about Howland,” Powell added. “He’s a great coach and I learned a lot. I’ve gotten better since I came here as a freshman. He did a great job helping me with my defense, making my shot better. But I definitely wanted to see a change.”
He had heard about Steve Alford from Glen Worley, a coach at San Diego’s Lincoln High who once played for Alford at Iowa. However, Powell said his conversation with Worley had no bearing on his decision to stay or transfer.
The rising junior said the main difference between Alford and Howland was that the former felt “more in tune” with the players. He also quelled any lingering fears fans may have about big man Tony Parker not returning to UCLA: “He’s staying. He’s staying. Tony’s staying.”
On Thursday, UCLA officially announced that it had extended athletic director Dan Guerrero’s contract for six years and nine months. Here is a summary of the main financial terms from the new agreement, which starts retroactively on April 1 and ends on Dec. 31, 2019. Continue reading →
Former New Mexico coach Steve Alford isn’t a home-run hit as a coaching hire, but under the circumstances, UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero could have done worse. With Butler’s Brad Stevens and VCU’s Shaka Smart recommitted to their respective programs, the Bruins’ were running out of big-name options.
Alford’s recent 10-year extension with the Lobos proved to be a minor obstacle, and Guerrero had clearly been communicating with the coach about the job for at least the past few days. Here’s a look at what the 48-year-old Alford brings to Westwood.
UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero’s opening statement:
Tremendously exciting day for me and the entire UCLA family as we are proud to announce the hiring of Steve Alford as the new men’s basketball coach. Since last Sunday, obviously, the last six days have been pretty crazy, quite a whirlwind. There was a great deal of interest from many circles for this job. During the past several days, I received a lot of input from individuals both inside and out of basketball. Around the game of basketball as well. These individuals have provided great input, great insight, and certainly helped contribute to where we are today.
I think what resonated most about these conversations is how much alignment of vision there was between me and many others in terms of the characteristics that were important in the next coach. In Steve Alford, we found exactly what we were seeking. An outstanding coach, a great competitor, an excellent teacher of the game, builder of programs, someone who cares deeply about his players and his family. An individual that values academics, that has established a habit of winning in his respective programs. Maybe more importantly, an individual who really wanted to accept the challenge of being the head coach at the UCLA.
I can’t tell you again how thrilled again I am to have Steve and his family join us. I believe he will build this program the right way.
Q: When did you know he became available considering he had just agreed to a contract extension at New Mexico? Continue reading →