(Contributors: Dakota Thompson, Photo: Gettyimages.com)
Steve Alford Biography
Steve Alford is a basketball player born in Franklin, Indiana who played for Indiana University. He played the point guard and shooting guard position for the Hoosiers for four seasons between 1983 and 1987. He was recruited by and played under Bob Knight. The 6’2″ guard became Indiana’s all-time leading scorer with 2,438 points at the time – a record later surpassed by Calbert Cheaney. He was ranked #35 on the list of the 100 greatest Division-I college basketball players of all time according to The Sporting News. Alford was drafted #26 overall in 1987 and left the NBA after four years in 1991 to become a college basketball coach. He currently is the head coach for the Nevada Wolf Pack.
- Name: Stephen Todd Alford
- Position: Point Guard / Shooting Guard
- Nationality: USA
- Age: 49 years old
- Birthday: November 23, 1964
- Hometown: Franklin, Indiana
- High School: Chrysler High School (New Castle, Indiana)
- Height: 6’2″ (188 cm)
- Weight: 183 lb (83 kg)
- Seasons: 4 (1983-1987)
- Jersey: #12
- Current Team: Nevada Wolf Pack (Head Coach)
- NBA Draft: 1987 / Round 2, Pick 3 / Pick 26 Overall (Dallas Mavericks)
- Education: Bachelor in Business
Player Awards and Accolades
- NCAA champion (1987)
- 2× Consensus first-team All-American (1986, 1987)
- 3× First-team All-Big Ten (1985–1987)
- 2× Big Ten Player of the Year (1986-1987)
- Big Ten MVP (1987)
- Basketball Olympic Gold Medal (1984)
- Indiana Mr. Basketball (1983)
- No. 2 All-Time Most Points in Hoosier History (2,438 points)
Steve Alford High School Career
Steve Alford was a standout player under his father, Sam Alford, during his time at New Castle Chrysler High School. During his first year of high school, he averaged around a point per game and brought his average to 18.7 in his sophomore season. He averaged 37.7 points per game as a senior which was before the three-point line was introduced. He set a high school tournament record of 57 points in the 1983 semi-state game and finished his high school career with 2,116 points. Alford acquired numerous awards during his high school career. He was awarded all-state for two years, all-NCC for three years, and Indiana’s Mr. Basketball Award in 1983. He was recruited by Bob Knight who was in his ninth season as head coach for Indiana University.
Steve Alford Seasons with the Hoosiers
22-9 (13-5 Big Ten)
🏅 NCAA Elite Eight
19-14 (7-11 Big Ten)
🥈 NIT Runner Up
21-8 (13-5 Big Ten)
🏅 NCAA First Round
30-4 (15-3 Big Ten)
🏆 NCAA Champions
Indiana University Career Statistics
(Source: Sports Reference)
Steve Alford Indiana University Basketball Career
Alford quickly gained the trust of then head coach Bob Knight and started all but 5 of his 125 games. During his four years at Indiana University, he repaid this trust by posting a four-year record of 92-35 and becoming the Hoosiers second place all-time leading scorer at 2,438 points. Also, he became the first player to win the Indiana MVP award four times. He is the leader for 3 point field goal percentage and steals. During his senior year, he led the team to the fifth NCAA championship in Indiana history and a 30-4 record.
As a freshman, Alford was the 14th Indiana Mr. Basketball recruited by Indiana and 4th recruited by Bob Knight. He instantly became a star player for the Hoosiers. Former teammate and later Indiana coach, Dan Dakich stated, “Steve was incredibly mature as a freshman. He was getting thrown out of practice then. If Coach respects you and knows you can handle it, he’ll do that. When I was a freshman, only Randy Wittman and Ted Kitchel, the seniors, were thrown out.” He led the NCAA in free throw shooting making 91.2% of his attempts. Alford helped Indiana defeat North Carolina and Michael Jordan in the 1984 NCAA Tournament.
As a sophomore, he was selected to become a member of the U.S. basketball team, also coached by Bob Knight, alongside future stars Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, and others. Alford averaged 10.3 points per game during the Olympics and his team went on to win the gold medal. Alford returned to Indiana and was named to the 1985 NIT Tournament All-Tournament team after the Hoosiers finished second behind UCLA. As a junior, Alford led the Hoosiers to a 21-8 record and finished second in the Big Ten behind No. 5 Michigan. They made the NCAA tournament as a No. 3 seed, but made a quick, disappointing exit with a first round loss to No. 14 seed Cleveland State. He won his first Big Ten Player of the Year honors at the end of this season.
In his senior season, Alford led the team to the fifth national championship after defeating the Syracuse Orange 74-73 from game-winning jump shot by Keith Smart with five seconds remaining. Alford shot 7-10 from three and scored 23 points in the title game.
Numerous accolades were acquired by Alford during his tenure as a player for the Hoosiers including those listed prior. He was awarded first team All-Big Ten honors for the first three seasons he was a Hoosier and All-American honors as a junior. His all-time career free throw percentage was 89.7% and it is ranking as a fourth best in NCAA history.
During his junior season, Alford was suspended for one game against No. 9 Kentucky for posing for a sorority calendar that was produced to raise money for a specialized camp for handicapped girls in Vancouver, Canada. Alford received no money for this appearance. He said he assumed incorrectly that posing for the calendar was within NCAA rules because it was for charity and he assumed this was similar to how he appeared in NCAA anti-drug commercials. The suspension may have contributed to Indiana’s loss to Kentucky, 63-58. The NCAA later modified its rules to allow players to participate in such charitable promotions.
Steve Alford Career after Indiana
Alford entered the 1987 NBA draft and was drafted No. 26 overall by the Dallas Mavericks. This left many Indiana fans disappointed as they were hopeful for Alford to be drafted by the Pacers, but they chose Reggie Miller. Dallas finished third in the western conference at 53-29 this season and Alford contributed only 2.1 points per game in the regular season and 1.5 points per game in the playoffs. He was then traded to the Golden State Warriors for the 1988-89 season. He was then traded back to the Mavericks where he played his two final seasons in the NBA. His most productive season was in his final where he scored 4.4 points per game. Having less success in the NBA than in college, Alford retired and transitioned to coaching.
Head Coaching Timeline:
- 1991-1995: Manchester University
- 1995-1999: Southwest Missouri State
- 1999-2007: University of Iowa
- 2007-2013: University of New Mexico
- 2013-2018: UCLA
- 2019-present: University of Nevada
Alford transitioned back to his home state of Indiana to coach Division III Manchester University from North Manchester, Indiana. Alford posted a respectable 78-29 record over four seasons after he lost his 8 first games in his tenure. Additionally, in his first season at Manchester, they only won 4 games of 20. Alford’s first full season resulted in a drastic turnaround to 20-8 and improving go 31-1 in their final season. Alford won coach of the year for the Indiana Collegiate Conference three years in a row and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame.
Following Manchester, Alford left to join the Missouri State Bears. He coached for 4 seasons and posted a 78-48 record and made it to the Sweet 16 before losing to Duke in 1999. Alford made his first leap into Division-I coaching after this season as the University of Iowa job opened up. Tom Davis at University of Iowa decided that he would resign from being the Hawkeye’s coach after having a disappointing season in 1998. Alford started turning heads when in the first game, he defeated the reigning national champion Connecticut at Madison Square Garden. However, this success was short-lived and they finished 14-16 on the season. In the second season, Alford won the Big Ten Tournament including a victory against Indiana in the finals to make the NCAA Tournament and advancing to the second round. Most of Alford’s years in Iowa were not overly successful as his best finish was in 2005-2006 when the team finished 25-9 and 11-5 in conference play and losing int he first round of the tournament against Northwestern State 64-63. At the end of the 2006-2007 season, Alford resigned and accepted a position for University of New Mexico.
At University of New Mexico, Alford replaced Ritchie McKay and found quick success with a 24-9 finish. Alford reached the postseason each year with the Lobos either through the NIT or NCAA Tournament, but the best finish he had was in 2009-2010 where the Lobos finished 30-5 and made the round of 32. He was named MWC coach of the year three times and had the Player of the Year in his final year, Kendall Williams. In his final season, New Mexico lost to Harvard, a No. 14 seed, in the first round. In nearly 20 years of coaching, Alford only reached the Sweet 16 one time as a coach – in 1999 with Southwest Missouri State.
On March 30, 2013, Alford signed a $18.2- million contract to become the head coach at UCLA as the replacement to Ben Howland who was fired after having a historic recruiting class including McDonald’s All-Americans Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker. Alford made the Sweet 16 in each of his first two seasons and again in 2016-2017. In Alford’s final full season, they lost to St. Bonaventure in the First Four which was the Bonnies’ first victory in their tournament history. Shortly after this upset, the fanbase started to become increasingly restless and started to show their distrust in Alford’s ability to lead the team. Despite these struggles, Alford still brought in a 2018-2019 top-10 recruiting class and ranked No.21 in the preseason AP poll. They won the first four games and quickly fell apart to 7-6 including a loss to Liberty by 15 points. Losing consecutive games to non-power conference schools was something the Bruins had not experienced since 2012-2013. Alford started to blame his players and on December 31, 2018, UCLA decided to fire Alford. This marked the first head coaching change mid-season for the Bruins. UCLA had 11 players selected in the NBA draft and 7 first-round picks during Alford’s tenure.
At the conclusion of the 2018-2019 season, Musslman left the Nevada Wolf Pack to become the new coach for Arkansas. This left a void that Alford filled and Nevada hired him to a 10-year deal. Alford quickly won the praises of Musselman to succeed himself as the new Nevada coach.
Steve Alford Videos and Highlights
Highlights as a Hoosier
Highlights at New Castle High School
Interviews and Other Videos of Steve Alford
Check out the rich history of Indiana Hoosiers basketball!
Every week, we are publishing new articles on former and current Indiana University basketball legends, historical figures, and other IU history. Our goal is to capture the history of the Hoosiers all in one place. Click here to see our current collection of articles on Indiana basketball tradition.
Have a favorite Indiana Hoosier basketball player, coach, or event?
Help grow the Hoosier basketball history books by being a contributor to one of our IU athletics history pages! IndianaHQ is always looking for writers of all ages and experience levels. If you think you have what it takes, drop us an email here or send us a tweet!