It takes a certain kind of player to be the cornerstone of a rebuilding process. That’s exactly what Arron Afflalo proved to be for the UCLA Bruins. After college basketball’s most storied program endured a period of lackluster play, coach Ben Howland brought instant hope to the Burins when he inked Arron — a local product and McDonald’s All American — as his first recruit.

Because of these circumstances, Arron assumed big responsibilities as soon as he began his collegiate playing career, quickly becoming an integral player in UCLA’s rotation. Arron made his initial mark as a lockdown defender, then developed his offensive abilities to the point that he was named an All-American in his final season for the Bruins.

FRESHMAN (2004-05)

  • Started All 29 Games
  • Pac-10 All-Freshman Team
  • Ranked 3rd on UCLA in Points Per Game (10.8)
  • Ranked 3rd on UCLA in Assists Per Game (2.2)
  • Ranked 1st on UCLA and 10th in Pac-10 in 3-Point Percentage (38.6%)
  • Rivals.com Honorable Mention Freshman All-American
  • Named UCLA’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player

New UCLA Bruins coach Ben Howland began the process of restoring UCLA to powerhouse status in college basketball by signing Arron as his first recruit. Some 18 years after being born minutes away from UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, Arron Afflalo would begin playing his collegiate career there.

AA paid immediate dividends for Howland. He and fellow freshman Jordan Farmar were the only two players to start each one of the Bruins’ games,
 

Arron impressed in his debut against Chicago State, posting a well-rounded stat line of five points, three rebounds, three assists, and one steal. More impressively, he instantly established himself as a defensive stopper, playing 34 minutes and limiting the Bobcats’ Terren Wilson to just two points.

The local product soon showed he wasn’t solely a defensive force. AA proved pivotal in UCLA’s hard-fought win over Long Beach State a few games later, scoring 21 points on a perfect 7-of-7 field-goal shooting clip. Arron, and the rest of Howland’s dynamic freshman trio —Farmar and Josh Shipp — guided the Bruins to a 6-2 record before opening Pac-10 play.

But Arron and his freshmen teammates didn’t back down from the tougher competition that came with conference play either. In fact, Arron elevated his play to a whole new level.

His best game of the conference season came against cross-town rival USC and coincided with UCLA best team game of the season. With Arron’s season-high 22 points and nine rebounds leading the way, the Bruins beat the Trojans, 90-69.

"Whenever you get a career high in points and rebounds, it's a good game," Arron told the Associated Press.

That fine performance was one of many for AA as the season drew to a close. He scored in double figures in five of his last six games, helping the Bruins claim their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2002.

Though UCLA lost in the first round of the tournament, Arron and his fellow youngsters had helped re-establish UCLA as a force to be reckoned with in college basketball. Arron, Farmar, and Shipp were all Pac-10 All-Freshman selections.

"Arron and Josh have had great freshman seasons," Howland said in a release. "It's an honor to have all three of our freshmen acknowledged by the Pac-10. We have the top starting freshmen threesome in the country. They have been very important to each other and very supportive of each other all season long. As a trio — Jordan, Arron and Josh have made a special impression in their first season of college basketball. What's really exciting for me is, as a freshmen trio, their best basketball is yet to come."