Thursday, April 20, 2006

Afflalo and Farmar To Test NBA Draft

By the Associated Press

UCLA guards Arron Afflalo and Jordan Farmar both declared for the NBA draft Thursday, but neither will sign with an agent, giving them the option to return to the Bruins for their junior seasons.

Afflalo and Farmar plan to hold individual workouts for specific teams that ask, with each player paying his own way to the workout sites.
"My goal as a basketball player is to play in the NBA," Farmar said. "I can always come back with a great team. It's a good situation for me to test it and see what people think about me and where I am."

UCLA coach Ben Howland said he talked to 17 or 18 NBA general managers, who projected Afflalo and Farmar would be selected late in the first round or early in the second round of the June 28 draft.

"Whether they both go this year or come out at the end of next year, they're both going to be in the NBA. That's a given," Howland said at a campus news conference. "I am totally 100 percent behind them, as is our whole UCLA basketball family in their decision to test the waters."

Like Farmar, Afflalo said he would return to school if he wasn't assured of being a first-round pick.

"If it's not the smartest situation possible, I'm coming back to a great team," he said.

Farmar added, "A lot of guys don't have UCLA and the success we had to come back to."

The players have until June 18 to withdraw their names from the draft.

Afflalo's and Farmar's individual workouts won't begin before May 20, when they will be required to drop one of the three classes they're taking during the spring quarter and become part-time students. The quarter ends in mid-June.

At that point, the players will no longer participate in individual workouts with the UCLA team.

The duo said they wouldn't participate in the NBA pre-draft camp in Orlando, Fla., because it doesn't allow players to showcase their individual skills as much as solo workouts do.

Afflalo and Farmar were the first two recruits Howland signed when he took over in Westwood three seasons ago. The sophomores led the Bruins to a runner-up finish to Florida in the national championship game April 3 after helping them win the Pac-10 regular-season and tournament titles.

"I'm indebted to them forever," Howland said. "They have helped start something we think is very special."

Both players said their families and Howland were helping shield them from agent inquiries.

Afflalo and Farmar, the Bruins' co-captains, shared the John Wooden Award as the team's most valuable players this season. UCLA finished 32-7, tying a school record for most wins.

Losing them would rob the Bruins of their offensive punch. Afflalo was the leading scorer at 15.8 points and Farmar was second at 13.5. He also led the Pac-10 in assists.

"If they come back, God bless them, I'll be so happy," Howland said. "If they elect to stay in the NBA and they go in the first round, that'll be great, too."



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