La Cueva grad Alford preps for a Golden State summer - Albuquerque Journal

La Cueva grad Alford preps for a Golden State summer

Bryce Alford celebrates a 3-pointer during UCLA’s 87-84 victory over Arizona on Jan. 7, 2016, in Los Angeles. He begins competing with the Golden State Warriors’ NBA Summer League team on Saturday. (Kevin Sullivan/The Orange County Register via AP)


No, Bryce Alford didn’t get drafted.

But how’s this for a pair of consolation prizes for the La Cueva High graduate, who in March completed a record-setting college basketball career at UCLA?

First, within a matter of minutes after the June 22 NBA Draft, Alford was offered a spot on the defending world champion Golden State Warriors’ summer league roster.

Second, after his first practice with the team this week in Las Vegas, Nev., the 22-year-old asked his coaches what they were looking to see him do over the next 10 days. Their answer is pretty much what any shooter wants to hear.

“They said to do what I do,” Alford said. “They pretty much told me, ‘We don’t need you to come out here and try to show us things we haven’t seen on tape. We know you shoot the basketball at a very high level. That’s why you’re here. Go out there and don’t ever pass up a shot when you have any kind of space. Be aggressive. That’s why we brought you here.'”

So the shooter plans to shoot.

It might not exactly be at the same clip as he fired ’em up for his father, UCLA coach Steve Alford, while becoming the Bruins’ all-time leader in 3-point baskets. And it might not be at a rate reminiscent of his record-setting scoring days as La Cueva’s ‘Burque Bomber.

But make no mistake, the Warriors, who open league play Saturday vs. Philadelphia, run an offense that wants players to shoot 3-pointers and that is why Alford has been signed — to simulate that style of play.

It’s a fit that he feels is about as perfect as it can be as he hopes to make enough of an impression to earn an invitation to a training camp with the Warriors or any other NBA team later this summer.

“I’ve got a good situation right now,” Alford said. “I should get some playing time, hopefully, and then after I get it, it’s my job to earn it and keep it. It’s a system that fits with me. We modeled our offense at UCLA, and our defense, after the Warriors. So, a lot of their schemes are very similar to what we did. …

“I think that’s the style of basketball I’m best at — sharing the basketball, playing at a high pace and shooting a lot of 3s. That sets up with what I do. I think that’s a main reason they brought me in for their summer league. They know I can shoot and that’s what they want.”

While the fit seems right to him, it wasn’t necessarily one Alford saw coming. He worked out for eight NBA teams between wrapping up his career at UCLA and the draft, and not one of those was the Warriors.

He also realizes that, as good a fit as the Warriors are and as lucky as he is to have a specific skill the NBA covets more than ever, the odds of him going from undrafted free agent to an NBA roster are slim.

He realizes, however, that he’s in a position to earn plenty of money playing professionally in the near future, be it in the United States or overseas. And he’s grateful for that.

Then again, that’s why he has an agent to worry about Plan B. For now, Alford is only thinking about one goal.

“I’m a confident dude. And in this business, it’s almost better to approach things being unrealistic in what you think you can do,” Alford said. “So maybe that’s what I’m doing, but I’m not looking at it in any other way than I’m going to make a roster.”

BUT CAN HE PITCH? Though a date hasn’t been finalized, Albuquerque Isotopes general manager John Traub has extended an invitation to Alford to come back this summer to throw out the first pitch at a game.

The likely ‘Tope player who would catch that ceremonial first pitch would be Austin House, a fellow La Cueva High graduate who is a relief pitcher in Albuquerque.

Alford said between the team workouts, the draft and summer league, he hasn’t been able to pin down a date to return, but he was excited for the invitation and said he will definitely take Traub up on the offer later this summer.


NBA Summer League: Philadelphia vs. Golden State

8:30 p.m., ESPN

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