Now that Indiana is in the market, it's time to start looking at some of the key names and how they have fared on the recruiting trail. Starting this series off is current UCLA coach, and former Hoosier star, Steve Alford.
Alford has been a Division I head coach for 22 years. Four at Missouri State, eight at Iowa, six at New Mexico, and now four at UCLA. He has been at basically every level of basketball. He has been at a true mid-major (Missouri State), an upper mid-major (New Mexico), a lower high-major (Iowa), and an elite high-major (UCLA).
In that time Alford has proven to be able to get players. In a general sense, recruiting 10 to 15 years ago versus today is totally different. Especially when transposing a level like Missouri State to Indiana. Also at Iowa. There he often found under the radar type of guys, mixing in a few prominent recruiting wins as well.
Alford went into Indiana and landed Brody Boyd as well as nabbing Hoosier native, and IU transfer, Luke Recker (via transfer). In that regard he showed he could come into Indiana and get players and also get high-profile players to transfer. More importantly show he could get the best out of a kid like Recker.
Upon leaving Iowa, Alford went to New Mexico and more focused on under the radar type players. Maybe the biggest recruiting catch for him was Tony Snell. Snell was an under recruited player from the Inland Empire AAU program, and ending up coming to New Mexico and turning himself into an NBA player. And a very good one at that.
Alford built up New Mexico in other ways. He landed a high profile local recruit in Alex Kirk. Kirk was a rare top 100 recruit from the state of New Mexico, and Alford went head to head with Sean Miller at Arizona for Kirk.
Beyond that Alford showed he could take high profile kids from a place like UCLA in Drew Gordon, and turn him into an excellent player. Landing a transfer like that was huge at New Mexico.
Once at UCLA, Alford struggled a little bit on the recruiting trail to find his footing. He was able to keep Zach LaVine committed under the old staff, and eventually Isaac Hamilton would make his way to Westwood via transfer. There were some early reaches with players like Noah Allen and Wanaah Bail, who joined his son Bryce in that first class.
After a few up and down classes, Alford has had it rolling recently. Using his staff’s connections to the Compton Magic AAU program and Los Angeles in general, Alford has landed high profile local top 50 prospects such as Thomas Welsh, Aaron Holiday, Ike Anigobu, Lonzo Ball, and T.J. Leaf with more on the way in Jaylen Hands and Cody Riley.
Also Alford has mixed in a few Midwest recruits. Most well-known to Indiana fans is 2017 recruit Kris Wilkes. But also Alford went into the state of Wisconsin and landed Kevon Looney in a national recruiting win.
Overall it is clear that Alford is going to bring talent. While one might argue UCLA is maybe the single best job to recruit to due to its tradition and proximity to the ridiculous Los Angeles talent base-- Indiana isn’t too far behind.
If Alford ends up at Indiana, he should resonate with Indiana parents, high school coaches, AAU coaches, and recruits themselves. His track record shows that shouldn’t be a problem. Will he re-create his last two years at the recruiting trail at UCLA? Given demographics that is unlikely, but all evidence suggests Alford will be a good recruiter if he comes to Bloomington and field teams with talented players.