The most athletic player to play for Steve Alford ever and the two-time reigning NBA dunk champion Zach LaVine was unhappy at UCLA because of his treatment by Steve Alford. Depending on what you believe, Zach was either pushed out by Steve Alford and staff or underused after he told them he was going pro.
One thing is for sure. The ultra-talent Zach LaVine was unhappy and he bursts the bubble that Steve Alford is a great player's coach.
And now another very athletic guard seems likely to leave early (in this case transfer) if Steve Alford remains coach, Prince Ali. I opined after the loss to UC Berkeley and the unofficial end to the season that Steve Alford should start playing for next year and give more minutes to Prince Ali to start to give the very athletic Ali a chance to improve his game. The opposite happen.
After the UC Berkeley game in which he played 15 minutes, he never played double digit minutes again. It was so bad last night that Bruin Report Online wrote (not behind a firewall):
Prince Ali apparently played three whole minutes, but he did not register a single stat in the box score, and I don't actually remember seeing him on the court. In any case, it's hard to imagine a scenario where he sticks around after this year, where he was relegated more and more to the bench as the season wore on, and was seemingly scape-goated for many of UCLA's defensive issues.
Just like LaVine was scape-goated, Ali was scaped-goated. In this case it was for bad defense. This is ironic because a combo of Aaron Holiday, Isaac Hamilton, and Prince Ali athletically would be our best defensive guard/small forward combo. Oh wait, what guard is missing in that lineup? The coach's son, Bryce Alford.
Bryce Alford has his pluses. But he is the worst defender on the team. Scape-goating a freshman is inexcusable. Not taking full advantage of the sensational Zach LaVine was a mistake, doing it again to the athletic Ali makes it a trend. Steve's priority is Bryce and he proved it again by benching All to protect the nonathletic, no-defense Bryce Alford.
Yep, Daddyball is once again likely costing us a player. And, by coincidence, it is once again the team's best dunker:
Ali's dunk was the play of the biggest win of the season. To be clear, Ali did not win that game but Ali gave UCLA the defining moment of the win over Kentucky.
And, now, like Zach LaVine before him, he is likely gone.
How about this? Let's fire Steve Alford and keep Prince Ali.