Report: UCLA could make Bryce Alford walk on for T.J. Leaf

UCLA point guard Bryce Alford, the son of head coach Steve Alford, could be taken off scholarship as a senior in 2016-17. (David Stephenson/AP)

UCLA point guard Bryce Alford, the son of head coach Steve Alford, could be taken off scholarship as a senior in 2016-17. (David Stephenson/AP)

Two months ago, Steve Alford left open the possibility of taking his son Bryce off scholarship.

“We haven’t talked about that,” the UCLA men’s basketball coach said in June. “But obviously, that’s something that we can do.”

And something that appears to be an increasingly likely possibility. According to Scout.com, the Bruins are willing to make point guard Bryce Alford a walk-on in 2016-17 to make room for five-star power forward T.J. Leaf — who decommitted from Arizona on Thursday. Continue reading

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UCLA to open Maui Invitational against UNLV

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UCLA last won the Maui Invitational in 2006. Doing so again this year would be a big statement for Steve Alford.

The eight-team tournament will signal the Bruins’ first significant competition of the season, starting with UNLV on Nov. 23 at 8:30 pm PT (ESPN2). The Runnin’ Rebels have regressed under head coach Dave Rice — missing the NCAA tournament the last two years — but still have a talented roster that includes five-star center Stephen Zimmerman.

After that game, UCLA will face either Kansas or Chaminade the next day. The other side of the tournament bracket consists of St. John’s, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Indiana.

“You get a really good litmus test right away,” Alford said. “You get a really good feel from a coaching standpoint, playing three games in a row against quality opponents. You’re going to get a really good idea and picture of who your team is going into December.” Continue reading

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NBA Draft: Steve Alford talks about Kevon Looney, Norman Powell

UCLA head coach Steve Alford answered a few questions about Kevon Looney (No. 30 overall pick, Warriors) and Norman Powell (No. 46, Raptors) after Thursday night’s NBA draft.

What are your thoughts on Looney’s fit with the defending champs?

“You can never predict the draft, and you don’t really have any say of where you go. it’s one of the first times. These guys pick their AAU, pick their high school, pick their college. it’s a different experience for them. You go in the draft, and now you get a chance to go in the first round. You get picked by the defending champs, an organization like Golden State — it just doesn’t get much better than that.

“We said the same thing last year in regard to Kyle (Anderson going to the Spurs). I think if you talk to Kyle — he didn’t play a whole lot this year, he got some minutes — but being a part of that franchise, it was an incredible year for him. I couldn’t be happier for Kevon, because he’s going to a terrific organization.”

Did concerns about Looney’s health depress his draft stock?

“There’s no question. He definitely dropped because of that. Fortunately, he dropped into a great situation, being with the franchise he’s with. But I definitely think those were some concerns. I had to field an awful lot of phone calls in the last week or two, and all of my comments were the same. Continue reading

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UCLA basketball finalizes 2015-16 nonconference schedule

UCLA men’s basketball released its upcoming nonconference schedule today, and the spot to mark in your calendar is Dec. 3.

That’s when the Bruins will host Kentucky, facing a team that dismantled them in an 83-44 blowout last December in Chicago — one that the Wildcats opened with a 24-0 run. UK will almost certainly enter Pauley Pavilion as the favorite, but this is also a team that lost seven players from its Final Four squad.

As has become customary under head coach Steve Alford — who is heading into his third season — UCLA has a loaded nonconference slate that also includes a visit to Gonzaga on Dec. 12, and a game against North Carolina on Dec. 19 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Both teams beat the Bruins by double-digits last winter. The Bulldogs also ended UCLA’s season with a 74-62 win in the Sweet 16.

“I’ve maintained all along that we want to upgrade our program’s schedule in hopes of playing tough and exciting marquee games,” Alford said in a statement, “and I’d say we’ve moved even further in that direction this year. … This non-conference schedule figures to be one of the strongest in the nation, and I know our players can’t wait to take on this challenge.”

The Bruins could also play Kansas and Indiana in November’s Maui Invitational, a tournament that also includes St. John’s, UNLV and Wake Forest.

UCLA’s first competition will come in an exhibition game against Cal State Los Angeles on Oct. 30, and it will officially open its season against Monmouth on Nov. 13.

See the full nonconference schedule below: Continue reading

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Steve Alford talks state of UCLA basketball heading into 2015-16

UCLA head coach Steve Alford stands during the introductions before the Bruins' 72-63 win over Oregon on Feb.14, 2015. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff)

UCLA head coach Steve Alford stands during the introductions before the Bruins’ 72-63 win over Oregon on Feb.14, 2015. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff)

This morning, UCLA men’s basketball ran an instructional clinic with Special Olympic athletes at Pauley Pavilion. A group of UCLA students regularly run the clinics every Saturday, and had reached out to the team to collaborate this weekend. The Special Olympics World Summer Games will be held in Los Angeles from July 25 to August 2.

After the session on Saturday, UCLA coach Steve Alford talked about participating in the event and the state of his program — including thoughts on Jonah Bolden’s role, and whether or not point guard Bryce Alford might be taken off scholarship.

On being involved with the Special Olympics:

“The more you give, the more you get out. I’ve been involved with the Special Olympics since 1984, when I got back from Los Angeles being a part of the Olympics. … Every stop I’ve made, I’ve been involved with it. Anytime that they reach out to us, and we get a chance to be around the Special Olympians, we want to do that. Give them a chance to run down Pauley Pavilion. It’s not like any other court. It’s a special time for these kids to be able to do that. …

“The personalities come out. You get to see the ones that have flash. The ones that have swag. The ones that shoot threes. Ones that want to post up. Ones that want to guard. It’s a lot of fun seeing that. … The passion that they play with, that’s a very encouraging thing.”

On how he feels about state of UCLA’s roster heading into his third season:

“Good. Our freshmen get here about the 20th, 21st of this month. [Four-star guards Aaron Holiday and Prince Ali, three-star forward Alex Olesinski, JUCO transfer center Ikenna Okwarabizie] Once we get those guys in, it’s as full a roster as we’ve been able to have. We’ll have a minimum of 11 guys on scholarship, and I haven’t had that since I’ve been here. Continue reading

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