Much of Kory Alford’s life has taken place inside gymnasiums as a coach’s son, fan, player or assistant coach. Now 25, he remains determined to make a living doing what he loves most — coaching basketball.
Not that anyone should be surprised.
Alford’s father, Steve, currently his boss at UCLA, is a legend in Indiana after leading the Hoosiers to the 1987 national championship during his senior season.
Kory’s paternal grandfather, Franklin resident Sam Alford, chalked up 452 victories in 29 seasons as a high school basketball coach (1966-95). Sam and Steve were inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002 and 2009, respectively.
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“I think my grandpa, my dad, a lot of the people I know in coaching, that’s their first response — ‘Are you crazy?’ ” Kory said with a laugh. “As I’ve started my career, after Year 1, it’s, ‘Do you still want to do this?’ I’m like, ‘Yes. I love it.’
“After Year 2, it’s the same thing. Those who are in coaching understand what it takes and what you go through. It’s a lifestyle commitment, and so they understand what I’m choosing to do.”
In March, Kory completed his second season on his father’s staff at UCLA as the Bruins’ video coordinator.
Alford assists with shooting footage of all team practices. He works with the Bruins’ director of player development and scouting to compile player profiles, and organizes statistical data and analytics to benefit the Bruins’ coaching staff.
“Kory is extremely smart with the way the game is going. He understands the game and he understands where the game is headed because it changes every single year,” former UCLA guard Bryce Alford said of his brother.
“He’s been around the game his whole life. He’s learned under our dad, who I think is one of the most underrated coaches in the country. I think Kory will be a great coach once he gets his foot in the door.”
Kory is in his element working with young players in camp settings like the one at Franklin College bearing his old man’s name. His even demeanor and constant encouragement to those half his age or younger make him a natural in such environments.
“I think my best trait currently would be just my poise and understanding of the situation. You’re in the heat of the battle, heat of the moment, and you’ve got to make quick decisions while staying cool and calm,” Alford said. “That’s something that comes naturally for me with my personality, but also from being around (basketball).
“Growing up in the environment I was in, I’ve been in locker rooms from the time I was born. That’s what I’ve known. I grew up around college athletics, so from that standpoint it’s what I know more than anything else.”
Alford and his wife, Haley, enjoy living in Los Angeles, but understand they’ll eventually relocate — possibly on numerous occasions — as Kory continues to advance his basketball coaching career.
Steve Alford was 27 when he became the men’s basketball coach at Division III Manchester. Four years and a 78-29 record later, he was off to Southwest Missouri State, then Iowa and later New Mexico before landing the UCLA job in 2013.
Sam’s first head coaching job was at Monroe City High School near Vincennes. He was 24 taking over a program best for its catchy mascot name (Blue Jeans) in November 1966.
He followed it with stops at South Knox (a 1967 consolidation of Monroe City, Frichton, Wheatland and Decker), Martinsville and New Castle.
Even Hall of Famers start their careers small and work their way up.
“I would absolutely pursue a small-school job, and in the next two to three springs I’ll look to do that,” Kory said. “I would love to start at a Division III. I think it’s a great place to learn.”
THE ALFORD FILE
Name: Kory Alford
Family: Wife Haley
High school: La Cueva, New Mexico (2011)
College: UCLA (2015)