Five programs set to benefit from coaching change at UCLA
Steve Alford was dismissed by UCLA on Monday following four straight losses and a disappointing 7-6 start to his sixth season in Westwood. A midseason firing will undoubtedly disrupt recruiting for the Bruins. Which programs stand to benefit from the coaching uncertainty at UCLA?
This one isn’t too difficult to come up. Besides being rivals and sharing the same city, the Trojans stock is soaring while the Bruins’ tanks. Upon Alford’s first few years on campus, UCLA was the dominant brand in LA, securing the best within its locale. A 180 has come about in recent years which coincided with USC's hiring of Eric Mobley, the father of five-stars Evan and Isaiah Mobley, two years ago. However, it can all not be traced just to him as the Bruins’ disconnect with the powerful Compton Magic travel program has furthered their downturn. Coming up short in their pursuit of the best local talents is one thing, but not even making the final list for a prospect, that is an entirely different dynamic.
The Trojans still have not reaped the rewards on the playing floor compared to what they have done on the recruiting front (ironically the Trojans have the same 7-6 record as the Bruins), but they have replaced UCLA as the sexy brand within its city.
Sean Miller has been a dominant force on the west coast upon his hiring, where he made it a point to land the best from within his state and those that are near it. Could the proper hiring at UCLA displaces the Wildcats from their west coast supremacy?
While Arizona’s top-ranked recruiting class this fall comes on the backs of three in-state talents in Josh Green, Nico Mannion and Terry Armstrong, the Wildcats have not struggled to find their footing in California. Whether it was Aaron Gordon, Brandon Ashley, or Stanley Johnson, or currently with Brandon Williams, the Wildcats have had no shortage of success in a terrain that the Bruins should be somewhat controlling. Miller has been seconds away from the Final Four, something that Alford was unable to even sniff.
While Oregon has become a dominant bunch in securing the best from Canada, it has also created the proper in-roads near the UCLA campus. The enrollment of Bol Bol was just another big one for Oregon, just as Tyler Dorsey was a few years back. Dana Altman’s success in Eugene would have been more than acceptable if it were to be happening at UCLA as he has elevated the Ducks’ brand nationally while reaching the Final Four three years ago.
Oregon also just enrolled two five-star prospects and will do the same another next fall. They’re also a favorite for top-five guard Cole Anthony, a product out of New York, where the Ducks are recruiting better and more successfully nationally than UCLA in recent years. It is about protecting your own turf, but the fact that Oregon can land three five-stars from out of its state compared to UCLA doing so with just one says something about the dynamics of things in LA.
While the immediate connections between Indiana and UCLA do not jump off of the page, the hiring of Alford and his strong connections to the Midwest enabled for the Bruins to dip their toes into the Hoosier State. They went as far as landing the commitment of five-star junior Kris Wilkes two years ago and also just enrolled Tyger Campbell this fall. They were also in the top-three for Trayce Jackson-Davis and currently sit as a finalist for top-30 wing Keion Brooks.
UCLA wasn't winning all of its priority recruitments of Indiana natives, though it was an extra school Indiana had to deal with. Archie Miller has cleaned up the state since his hiring but the change in Westwood, unless there is a clear connection to the state, would mean one less national brand that they have to fend off.
While the Jayhawks have not gone to battle a whole lot with UCLA in recent years, they are currently fighting one with Cassius Stanley, a top-30 guard that has each in his final three. The Bruins were thought to be the favorite a few days ago, so Alford's dismissal can only help Kansas.
Precious Achiuwa is another five-star prospect that UCLA and Kansas are heavily pursuing, and Kansas can only benefit from UCLA's coaching change.