Arron Afflalo, UCLA's starting guard the past three seasons, who helped lead the Bruins to back-to-back Final Four appearances and back-to-back Pac-10 Championships the last two years, was selected in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons (27th selection) on Thursday.
Afflalo becomes the 101st UCLA player to be selected in Bruin draft history (UCLA is the all-time collegiate leader in NBA Draft selections, since 1948). UCLA has had at least one player taken in the NBA Draft for the last 11 years (since 1997).
"The shock definitely came because I hadn't worked out for the team so I wasn't expecting to hear my name at that particular point and time," Afflalo said on a teleconference call from New York. "I know my work ethic and I know what kind of basketball player I want to be and I'm blessed to have this opportunity. I've put a lot of hard work into this and I'm ready to put in even more. When you talk about Detroit Piston basketball, the first thing that comes to mind is mental and physical toughness and a desire to get better and I think those are my strongest qualities."
This past season, the 6-5, 215-pound guard was a first team consensus All-American while leading the Bruins in scoring at 16.9 points per game. The 2007 Pac-10 Player of the Year finished his Bruin career 17th in scoring (1,540 points, 14.8 ppg) and second in three-point field goals made (209) and attempted (560).
"I'm really excited for Arron and his family," Bruin head coach Ben Howland said. "He's worked very hard and this is a lifelong dream of his," said Bruin head coach Ben Howland. "I can't think of anybody more deserving than Arron to be a first-round draft pick in the NBA. He's going to a great franchise with an outstanding team and an opportunity to be a part of something really special."
Afflalo is the 28th first-round NBA Draft pick in UCLA history and the second under Howland.
Additionally, Afflalo is the fifth Bruin drafted in the Howland era, joining Farmar and Hollins last year, Dijon Thompson in 2005 (54th pick by New York Knicks) and Trevor Ariza in 2004 (43rd pick by New York Knicks).
BRO's Note: Arron Afflalo going in the first round of the draft is an excellent development for UCLA's program under Ben Howland.
Afflalo, who isn't considered a prototypical NBA athlete, being taken in the first round, is a very good reflection of how a player under Howland can optimize his talent. It's also a testament to Afflalo himself, and to the quality-character players that Howland is bring to UCLA.
Howland going in the first round, after Jordan Farmar went in the first round a year ago, will only enhance Howland's reputation for helping players get to the NBA, which is key in recruiting.