Despite what the national media tells you, the head basketball coaching gig at UCLA is a prestigious one. While it's high-pressure and thus high-risk, it's also high-reward and winning in Westwood could make a coach nearly immortal.
For that reason, it should come as no surprise that Brad Stevens reportedly has reciprocated interest in the UCLA job, according to various local "sources" and aggregated by Ryan Kartje at the OC Register.
And while many think Stevens is a home-run hire, it's fair to be skeptical of his fit in Westwood.
For all of Brad Stevens' accolades, including two straight trips to the NCAA championship game in 2010 and 2011, there are questions regarding his stubbornness and ability to recruit elite-level talent in the highly-controversial AAU circuit. At Butler, he received a reputation for recruiting unheralded talent and developing them into smart, fundamentally sound basketball players.
If you've kept up with the Ben Howland era at UCLA, you'd realize that Howland did much of the same, bringing aboard unknown talents such as Russell Westbrook and molding them into solid NBA prospects that were major contributors to his three Final Four runs. Eventually, Howland decided there was a need to recruit nationally-recognized talent, and because he's not great at managing egos and bowing to the whims of his talent, he flamed out, failing to evolve. Because he stuck with his style and was incredibly stubborn, word got around that Howland was no fun to play for and that basketball became a chore.
Of course, it doesn't seem as if Stevens has as abrasive a personality as Howland does. Howland, as good of a pure-basketball coach as he is, was strict and oftentimes debased his players. Stevens doesn't have these issues with players, and many have said they've loved playing for them.
But Stevens likes to implement his own style of play, and it may not be appealing to the nationally-ranked recruits that tend to gravitate towards UCLA. It's a good idea to get him assistants that purely recruit, but those that do end up in Westwood may be miffed by Stevens' style, which is reminiscent of Howland's (one that emphasizes defense).
Stevens is a young gun, however, and at age 36, it's likely that he can evolve his style of play and adjust to fit the talent at his disposal. He's embraced advanced statistics too, and that might help him determine objectively what the best floor combinations are.
Again, this is all speculation but we're sure that Stevens would be a hell of a hire, fit be damned. If it were up to UCLA fans, Stevens should take the UCLA gig just to give all the national media members a huge middle finger.