Afflalo Can Finally Focus On Himself

There's more to Arron Afflalo's game than the All-American has shown off


June 7, 2007

By Bryan Armen Graham

CSTV.com

 



BRYAN GRAHAM

Bryan is a basketball editor for CSTV.com and contributes on a regular weekly basis.
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Few players in college basketball enjoyed a greater share of the national spotlight over the past two seasons that Arron Afflalo, the All-American who helped spark UCLA's resurgence as a national power.

 

But in spite of his considerable exposure, even fewer top-flight college stars experienced more individual restraint from their respective systems than the 6-foot-5, 215-pound shooting guard.

 

In buying into Ben Howland's rough-and-tumble method -- a philosophy which embraces patience, moderation and defense at the expense of individual flair and creativity -- Afflalo enjoyed a fruitful collegiate career that included a pair of Final Four trips. But as the NBA draft looms, the pundits have projected the Pac-10 player of the year no better than a marginal first-round pick.

 

On that basis, it would seem that Afflalo was a logical candidate to participate in last week's league-sponsored pre-draft camp in Orlando, where players have traditionally bolstered their standing in the eyes of professional scouts. But the sharpshooter was among the event's more notable absentees, preferring to maintain his focus on the individual workouts which have filled his June calendar.

 

"I think I'm a first-round player," said Afflalo, who paced this year's Bruins with 17.2 points per game. "I'm just planning on training and preparing myself as much as I can going into these individual workouts more so than the camp."

 

Afflalo flew to Houston on Tuesday for a meeting with the Rockets. He has several more workouts scheduled as the June 28 draft looms and hopes to use the opportunities to showcase those individual skills which were limited by the Howland system.

 

"It's just about showing some of those skills that people might not know you have -- not because you're not capable but just the things you haven't shown," Afflalo said. "A lot of creativity and some different types of athleticism and a little about my personality that people might not know that might help me in this draft."

 

Afflalo doesn't resent whatever restrictions Howland's system placed on his game. Rather, the Centennial High alum is grateful that his team's success helped spotlight his desire to put the team first.

 

"A lot of players go through that and you have to learn to play with guys and play on the team and put winning first. I've always done that and a lot of players do that," Afflalo said. "But with that sometimes you make small sacrifices on your individual game and some of the creativity you have as a basketball player. I just want to make sure some of these teams know that I have a certain ability regardless if it's used or shown."

 

As a sophomore during the 2005-06 season, Afflalo teamed with Jordan Farmar to comprise one of the nation's most heralded backcourt tandems. Those Bruins would advance to the national championship game before suffering a loss at the hands of Florida and Farmar would depart school for the NBA shortly thereafter.

 

The Compton native says his contact with Farmar has been "off and on" and that his former backcourt mate hasn't passed along any advice that Afflalo hasn't been able to derive on his own. He knows what challenges lie ahead and remains confident in the method that has yielded success to date.

 

"Just focus," Afflalo said, matter-of-factly. "Focus and work. I don't think it's a challenge, but I think it's something that has to remain constant in my life so I can continue to improve and get better and help my team. As long as I maintain a good work ethic and a good attitude and be all about winning I think I'll be fine."

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