clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

UCLA Basketball: Is Steve Alford's Nepotism the Reason for Bruins' Recruiting Failures?

Is the prospect of competing with the coach's son scaring off potential point guard recruits?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I'll put the question to you like this:

Has Steve Alford's decision to recruit his son Bryce been a deterrent to his ability to recruit an elite point guard?

I believe the answer is yes.

In the past two days, we've seen Alford's two elite targets, Jordan McLaughlin and Quentin Snider commit to Illinois and USC respectively. One can only wonder how they felt about competing for playing time with the coach's son. I have to say, I'm reminded of the quote from the late Al McGuire, the Hall of Fame coach from Marquette. He coached his son Allie at the school and once told a player who insisted he was just as good as the coach's son. "You are just as good, but you have to be better. I like you. But I love him." And, yeah, I might not be quoting him exactly, but I'm sure about the sentiment.

Let's consider a few things.  From a Seth Davis article in August via a fanpost by s.riley:

The freshman class includes a few holdovers whom Howland recruited, most notably 6-3 freshman Zach LaVine from Bothwell, Wash. Alford described LaVine as "an extremely athletic scoring guard" who should find his way into the rotation. But the most critical -- and intriguing -- addition to the program is Bryce Alford, the coach's son, who during his senior season at La Cueva High in Albuquerque broke New Mexico's single season scoring record and was named the state's Gatorade Player of the Year. Running a team is a difficult chore for any freshman, much less one at UCLA, and much, much less the son of the newly hired head coach.

Alford did not try to downplay his son's chances of winning the starting point guard spot. Nor did he sound concerned whether Bryce was ready for that awesome responsibility. "I think he is. He had one of the best seasons in the country last year," he said. "He has great vision. He can really pass the ball, but he can shoot it, so you have to guard him." When I asked Alford the inevitable question of how Bryce compares to where his dad was at the same stage, he smiled. "Well, for starters he's much more athletic. I'm sure you'll find that hard to believe," he said. "He has great feet. He's bouncier than I was. He's also bigger. I came out of high school weighing about a buck-fifty. Bryce is 180, plus he's 6-3 so he's taller than I am."

Then today we saw a tweet from OC Register beat writer Ryan Kartje:

And that quote came before Snider made his announcement this afternoon. There was also this from just two hours ago:

Taken together, this is what we have: We have a coach who is a former All American and Olympian who believes his son is bigger and better than he is. We have that son telling a reporter that he expects to be the only pure point guard on the team -- before a four star recruit considering UCLA had made his decision. Then let's throw in the fact that Steve Alford almost skipped the in-home with Snider and let an assistant handle things.

All I'm saying is this: You have to wonder how much the presence of Bryce Alford influenced the decisions of McLaughlin and Snider and how badly missing on these two elite recruits will hurt the program in the next four years?