Alford gets chance with Pacers his father never had

UCLA guard Bryce Alford squats on the court after an NCAA college basketball tournament South Regional semifinal game against Kentucky Friday, March 24, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. Kentucky won 86-75. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — In the past two years, the Indiana Pacers used three consecutive NBA draft picks on players from UCLA coached by former IU basketball star Steve Alford. Alford's son Bryce was not drafted by the Pacers, but he's another former Bruin getting the chance his dad did not to play for the Alford’s home state team.

The Pacers opened rookie/free agent camp Sunday with four former UCLA players (Aaron Holiday, T.J. Leaf, Ike Anigbogu and Bryce Alford) who were all college teammates.

"It's crazy," said Holiday. "But I'm just glad it ended up like this. I’ve got a lot of familiar faces out here so that's always good."

Holiday, the Pacers first round draft pick this year, is reunited with last year's first round pick, Leaf.

"We're doing summer school out here," joked Leaf. "But no, it's funny how things work out."

Thirty-one years later, it's funny how the Pacers did not draft New Castle and Indiana Hoosiers basketball hero Steve Alford, now the coach at UCLA. The Pacers selected Hall of Famer Reggie Miller from UCLA instead.

"I hear about it all the time," said Bryce. "The '30 for 30.' All that stuff of showing my dad all disappointed when they picked him and hearing the Indiana locals, how disappointed they were. But I think it worked out. I think they took the right call. Even though it's my dad."

Bryce played for his father at UCLA. He grew up all over the country while Steve climbed the college coaching ladder.

"I was born here so it's in my blood," said Bryce. “It's definitely in my blood and with the last name Alford. It's a well-known name around here for good reason. I claim Indiana. It's where I say I was born. If anyone asks me where I'm from, I'm from here even though I only lived here until I was six months old."

Bryce becomes the first Alford to wear the uniform of the home state Pacers, sharing the court with three of his college teammates his dad also coached.

"Indiana Bruins," said Pacers summer league coach Steve Gansey after practice Sunday. "Somebody was saying this was going to be called Pauley Pavilion. It's fun. I believe there is some chemistry with these guys."

"That was a really good UCLA team that these guys are all from," said Bryce. "So, it doesn't surprise me that all of us are getting opportunities in this league. It's a coincidence that we're all in the same spot, but the Pacers are a smart organization."

Smart enough to disappoint dad in 1987 but give another Alford a chance three decades later.

The Pacers rookie/free agent camp runs through Wednesday at the St. Vincent Center before the team heads for Las Vegas for summer league games starting Friday.

To see the Pacers' full roster for 2018 Summer League, click here.

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