Arron was the first player Howland signed at UCLA after leaving Pittsburgh.
What better way for the new coach to endear himself to begin his UCLA tenure than by signing a Los Angeles native and McDonald’s All American?
“Arron is a classic two guard," Howland told USA Today. "I'm excited about his toughness and how he plays the game so hard and aggressive, yet so skillful. He's a good passer and shooter who does a good job of putting the ball to the floor and getting to the basket."
The coach eyed AA as the type of recruit the Burins would need to become a national title contender again, according to the Daily Bruin. He turned out to be right and Arron wasted no time proving it.
Despite being a true freshman, he started in all 29 of UCLA’s games during the 2004-05 season and averaged 10.8 points per contest. The freshman was the Bruins’ best marksman, shooting at a 38.7 percent clip from deep, beat on the team and 10th in the Pac-10. Perhaps most impressively, Arron established himself as a shutdown defender at the collegiate level and was named the Bruins’ Most Outstanding Defensive Player.
Arron’s freshman season earned him a spot on the Pac-10’s All-Freshman team as well as a Honorable Mention Freshman All-American honor from Rivals.com. He didn’t slouch in the classroom either, and was named to the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll in the spring of 2005.
A breakout freshman, Arron blossomed into a star as a sophomore. As UCLA’s leading scorer, Dijon Thompson departed for graduation, Arron stepped right into the lead guard role, topping UCLA in scoring at more than 15 points while also averaging over four rebounds per contest. He scored in double-digits in 34 of UCLA’s 39 games on the way to being named First Team All-Pac 10.
It’s not often when one can say a team’s leading scorer may have made his most significant impact on the defensive end, but that’s exactly what Arron did as he led the Bruins to a berth in the National Championship game. As the Bruins rolled through the NCAA Tournament, Arron shut down opposing stars Ronald Steele (Alabama), Adam Morrison (Gonzaga) and Rodney Carney (Memphis). His defensive presence earned AA as spot on the Oakland Regional’s All-Tournament Team. He was also named a fourth-team All-American by Scout.com.
As Ramona Shelbourne of the Los Angeles Daily News wrote, “Afflalo is UCLA's leading scorer. He's the guy the Bruins turn to when they need a basket. But he's also the guy they turn to when the need a stop.“
“That's a job I really relish. I love that job,'' he told the Daily News. "I love the challenge.''
With Arron’s help, the Bruins reached the National Championship game in 2006, but fel to the powerhouse Florida Gators. The loss pushed Arron and in his junior year he rose to the challenge in even bigger fashion.
Not only was he again named a member of the All-Pac 10 team, he was named the Conference Player of the Year. Despite being the Pac-10’s third-leading scorer, Arron earned the award because he exemplified the polished skillset of a complete player.
"If you truly have a love and passion for the game, then you should work at every aspect of it, not just the part that gives you [attention], that being scoring,” Arron told the Los Angeles Times. “That's what separates teams and players."
He also earned consensus All-American honors as he averaged 16.9 points per game and shot 37.5 percent from beyond the arc. He saved one of his best performances of his career for the right time, scoring 15 of his 24 points in the second half against Kansas to propel UCLA to its second-straight Final Four appearance.
The Bruins would bow out in the national semi-finals, but not before Arron finished sixth in the voting for the Wooden Award for the nation’s best player. After the season drew to a close, AA eventually announced he would forego his senior season and head to the NBA. He finished his collegiate career as UCLA’s 17th all-time leading scorer and owner of the second-most three-point baskets made in school history.