LOS ANGELES — Steve Alford was hired Saturday as UCLA coach, spurning New Mexico days after he agreed to a new 10-year deal with the Lobos for a chance to run what he called "the premier basketball program in the country."
The Bruins are bringing in someone with the same Indiana roots as John Wooden, who led UCLA to a record 10 national championships, including seven in a row, before retiring in 1975. Alford learned about Wooden as a first-grader in Martinsville, Ind., where his father, Sam, coached the high school basketball team at Wooden's alma mater.
"Ever since then there was a draw to find out more about him," Alford said. "I know my first steps into Pauley I will really feel that."
Alford, 48, agreed to a seven-year deal worth $18.2 million, with a yearly salary of $2.6 million and a $200,000 signing bonus, according to UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero.
Alford will be introduced in Westwood on Tuesday.
"This is truly a leap of faith," Alford said.
Guerrero said UCLA reached out to Alford first, not knowing whether he would be interested in the Bruins. Once he confirmed he was, the details were finalized early Saturday, Guerrero said.
"It was not an easy decision because I was extremely happy," Alford said. "I was about as happy as I can be. When I kept thinking about things, it still came back to UCLA. You're talking about the premier basketball program in the country. To have an opportunity like this, they don't come around every day."
"It hit us all really hard," Lobos center Alex Kirk said. "It hit coach hard, and it's going to hit the whole state hard."
Trojans eye FGCU: USC is targeting Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield for its vacant head coaching job, Yahoo Sports reported. Enfield, 43, led the Eagles to this year's Sweet 16, the first No. 15 seed to advance that far in the NCAA Tournament.
CAL STATE FULLERTON: Arizona State associate head coach Dedrique Taylor will be named head coach, espn.com reported.
Division II: Alex Hall scored a season-high 35 to help Drury topple defending champ Western Washington 107-97 in a national semifinal in Louisville, Ky. Metro State beat top-ranked West Liberty 83-76 in the other semifinal. The title game is April 7.
TRITON STARS: Eckerd forward Darrien Mack's dunk with two seconds left lifted the East over the West 113-112 late Friday at the Division II All-Star Game in Louisville, Ky. Mack finished with 18.