3 worst head coach hires in UCLA basketball history

The UCLA basketball program is defined by one legendary head coach, but FanSided NCAA staff writer Josh Yourish ranks the three worst head coaches in Bruins history.

UCLA Bruins head coach Steve Alford
UCLA Bruins head coach Steve Alford / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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2. Steve Alford. player. 518. . Record: 124-63. Steve Alford. 2013-19. Steve Alford.

For many years, Steve Alford was college basketball personified. An Indiana kid who won a national title for Bobby Knight’s Hoosiers, so it seemed like a natural fit at UCLA after tenures at Missouri State, Iowa, and New Mexico. In Year 1, it looked like a match made in heaven. 

Alford began his tenure in LA by winning the Pac-12 Tournament and leading a team with six future NBA players, Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson, Norman Powell, Zach LaVine, Travis Wear, and David Wear, to the Sweet 16. Then, in 2014-15, Alford wasn’t able to reload. Powell led his team in scoring and they snuck to the Sweet 16 as an 11 seed in the tournament, but it was a step in the wrong direction. 

Then, Alford truly bottomed out, with a 15-17 record in the 2015-16 season, so he turned to LA’s finest, LaVar Ball. Ball’s oldest of three, Lonzo, joined Bryce Alford and T.J. Leaf to lead UCLA to a 31-5 record and a No. 3 seed in the tournament. However, when push came to shove, Alford was outcoached by John Calipari in the Sweet 16 and Lonzo was outplayed by De’Aaron Fox. 

Alford couldn’t get past the Sweet 16 and after another disappointing year, he was fired midway through the 2018-19 season. Alford wasn’t the savior of UCLA basketball and UCLA never became the Ball-brothers pipeline.