UCLA's Afflalo To Pass Up Last Year Of Eligibility To Turn Pro

Tuesday, April 10th 2007, 9:06 pm
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ UCLA All-American guard Arron Afflalo is passing up his senior year to enter the NBA draft.

Afflalo, who averaged 16.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists and led the Bruins to consecutive Final Fours, announced his decision Tuesday at a news conference on campus.

The 21-year-old junior from Compton declared for the NBA draft last year, but withdrew his name and returned to school after attending evaluation camps. A player who declares a second time isn't allowed to return to school.

Afflalo said it was time to move on.

``The decision wasn't easy,'' he said. ``I did this for my personal growth, my happiness and where I felt I should be as an individual, what can get me to compete and be the best basketball player I can be.''

Afflalo averaged 10.8 points while starting each of UCLA's 29 games as a freshman, and a team-leading 15.8 points as a sophomore, when the Bruins (32-7) reached the NCAA championship game before losing to Florida 73-57.

UCLA (30-6) was eliminated by the Gators for a second straight year on March 31, losing 76-66 in the national semifinals. Florida beat Ohio State 84-75 in the title game.

The Bruins were known for their outstanding defense this season, and the 6-foot-5, 215-pound Afflalo was one of the main reasons. He and sophomore Darren Collison made up one of the nation's best backcourts at both ends of the floor.

Afflalo was the Pac-10 player of the year this season and finished sixth in the voting for the John R. Wooden award, given to college basketball's outstanding player.

Afflalo said he was disappointed to leave UCLA without winning an NCAA title.

``My intent was to come here and win a championship. That was what I was recruited for,'' he said. ``I compete to win, I don't compete to participate ... so I was very disappointed.''

Bruins coach Ben Howland said he was certain Afflalo will be a first-round pick in this summer's draft.

``I've done a lot of research and talking to NBA GMs over the last week. There's a lot of people excited about Arron,'' Howland said.

Afflalo planned to drop his classes Wednesday to prepare for the draft, and said he intends to complete some 10 remaining classes in the future to obtain his college diploma.

``I will be graduating,'' he said.

He declined to comment on which NBA team he would like to play for.

``I just want to play, become part of a family, part of a team,'' he said.