La Cueva Standout Gives Father, UNM a Verbal Commitment
Bryce Alford prefaced his announcement Monday with a nod to its predictability.
“To no surprise to most of you guys,” La Cueva’s standout point guard told a small gathering of teammates and media in the La Cueva gym, “I’ve decided to take my talent to stay here and play for the University of New Mexico.”
The Bears 6-3 junior wasn’t just verbally committing to a college basketball program but also to playing for his father, UNM’s fifth-year head coach Steve Alford.
Bryce, the second of Alford’s three children, said he’s wanted to play for his father “ever since I was little” and that the conversations started getting more serious as he entered high school. The plan became so clear-cut this year that Bryce didn’t seriously consider outside programs and can’t even name the other schools that expressed interest in him. That’s because dad handled all the recruiting phone calls, Bryce said, relaying the message that Bryce was going to become a Lobo.
“He hasn’t really mentioned who called me, but I know there were a handful of coaches that did call,” Bryce said.
La Cueva coach Frank Castillo said he hadn’t personally been contacted by any college coaches regarding Bryce who, as a junior, averaged 25.3 points and 4.6 assists per game and helped lead the Bears into the Class 5A title game.
Though signing day isn’t until November, Bryce — who was sporting a T-shirt that said “Lobo Swag” in bold letters — said there is no program that could come forward in the next seven-plus months and make him waver in his commitment to UNM, where he will receive a scholarship.
“No, (I’m) definitely here,” he said, adding that he made the announcement this week to clear the air prior to the AAU season.
In addition to the lure of playing for his father, Bryce said he was influenced by the input of his older brother Kory, a redshirt walk-on with the Lobos. Bryce said Kory told him he’s had a great experience in his first year with the program.
Then there was the appeal of staying close to home and joining a team that already felt like family. Bryce said he knows the other New Mexico players well, knows the team’s sets and often works with the Lobos in the off-season. He also cited the Pit, Lobo fans and New Mexico’s facilities for making UNM that much more attractive.
“There’s so much here that I don’t need anything else,” he said.
Steve Alford wasn’t present at Monday’s news conference, but Bryce said his dad has been loyal in his commitment to his son as a player.
“He’s always told me from the beginning, from my freshman year, that he wanted me. He told (me) him and his staff weren’t going to recruit any other guard for my class because they knew they wanted me,” Bryce said. “I think it goes both ways in terms of wanting each other.”
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal