UCLA is interested in Butler's Brad Stevens for its vacant head-coaching position. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
UCLA is targeting Butler head coach Brad Stevens as its top choice for its vacant head coaching position, according to a report from ESPN's Andy Katz and Peter Yoon.
Citing sources familiar with UCLA's search, Katz and Yoon reported that UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero prefers to hire a college coach to replace Ben Howland, who the school fired earlier this week.
Stevens, as he has always done with coaching rumors, would not comment to ESPN about the speculation.
"I'm the coach at Butler," Stevens wrote to ESPN in a text message. "As you know, my stance is to not comment on any other speculation or situation."
The 36-year-old Stevens has been Butler's head coach since 2007, where he has built the program into a perennial contender. He led the team to back-to-back national championship appearances in 2010 and 2011. The Bulldogs were eliminated from the 2013 tournament last weekend with a close, 74-72 loss to Marquette.
Speculation of major-conference coaching gigs has followed Stevens since he guided the Bulldogs to their first national championship appearance in 2010. In the past, he has been mentioned for openings at Oregon, Wake Forest, Illinois and Clemson, among others, but he signed an extension after the 2010 season to remain at Butler through the 2021-22 season. He professes that he doesn't have a desire to leave his home state, and Butler is set to become a major-conference school itself next year when it joins the Big East.
On Wednesday, SI.com's Pete Thamel reported that another of UCLA's top targets, VCU coach Shaka Smart, turned down the school and agreed to a lengthy contract extension with the Rams