Howland, Afflalo To Meet Today
By Diane Pucin
Los Angeles Times
[reprinted with permission]
UCLA basketball coach to discuss player's pro prospects as he considers plans for next year's Bruins.
The NCAA semifinal loss to Florida nine days in his rearview mirror,
Coach Ben Howland spoke Monday about what he expected from his
returning UCLA basketball players and his new recruits next season but
remained quiet about how much of his senior-less team would return to
try for a third consecutive Final Four appearance.
Danny Afflalo, father of junior All-American Arron Afflalo, said he and
Arron planned to meet with Howland today to discuss Arron's plans.
Afflalo, the Pacific 10 Conference player of the year, explored his NBA
prospects last spring, declaring his intention for draft eligibility
and attending some evaluation camps before withdrawing his name and
returning to lead UCLA back to the Final Four.
According to NCAA rules, if Afflalo declares for the draft for a second
time by the April 29 deadline, he will not be able to return to UCLA.
Howland said he would meet with the Afflalos and "try to do a lot of
research as to where [Arron] would go in the draft, assuming that is
part of the decision."
Danny Afflalo said Arron might have an announcement this afternoon, after meeting with Howland.
Sophomores Darren Collison and Josh Shipp, who also have been listed as
possible early draftees, can declare their eligibility, explore their
options, then return to school, as long as they don't hire agents.
Neither Shipp nor Collison has indicated whether he would declare for
the draft and use the chance to hear what NBA coaches think, or save
that option for next year.
Afflalo is listed as a late first-round pick on one NBA draft website and as a second-round pick on another.
Collison, who was listed as a possible No. 15 first-round pick last week on one site, is now unlisted on both.
"Those draft sites, I don't put a lot of stock in that," Howland said.
"I have a lot more confidence in what NBA general managers think and
the GMs have a service the NBA provides."
Howland also touched on some other topics:
He said he was in "no hurry" to replace assistant coach Kerry
Keating, who was named head coach at Santa Clara last week. Howland
said he was looking for someone "with experience, who's been around,
who is obviously a very good recruiter, but someone who understands all
the other aspects — scheduling, coaching — there are a lot of things."
He hoped that freshmen James Keefe, a forward, and Russell
Westbrook, a guard, would be spending significant time in the weight
room. He said he was happy that both were there the day after UCLA
returned from Atlanta last week and that he expected Westbrook to get
more time at the shooting guard position next year if Afflalo left for
Sophomore forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute struggled with knee
tendinitis more than he'd indicated, Howland said, adding that he hoped
Mbah a Moute would develop a more reliable jump shot. He said Mbah a
Moute probably would play more small forward next season.
According to Howland, top recruit Kevin Love will strengthen
UCLA's offense not only because of his outlet passing ability but also
because of his rebounding.
"We only out-boarded our opponents by 2.5 a game," Howland said.
"That's not very good. Our opportunity to fastbreak and to get
second-shot chances comes with better rebounding. Ideally, we should
out-rebound teams by seven, eight, nine a game."
(photo credit: AP)
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