Sunday, September 15

Farmar, Afflalo enter draft


Sophomores Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo of the UCLA
men’s basketball team submitted their names on
Thursday for the 2006 NBA Draft, but left open the option to return
to Westwood for their junior season.

Both Afflalo and Farmar, the Bruins’ leading
scorers this past season, indicated they will not hire an agent and
will only consider forgoing their final two seasons of eligibility
if they are assured to be first-round selections.

Only players selected in the first round of the NBA Draft are
offered guaranteed contracts upon selection.

Several NBA general managers told UCLA coach Ben Howland that
Farmar and Afflalo could be chosen as high as the 20th pick (first
round) and as low as the 35th pick (second round).

According to most current draft projections, Farmar is pegged
anywhere from late in the first round to the middle of the second
round, while Afflalo is considered a second-round selection.

“If it’s a maybe issue if I
go in the first round, then I’m coming back to
school,†Farmar said. “I
wouldn’t take the chance. I feel like I will be
a first-round pick at some point, whether it’s
this year, next year or the year after that. I can work into that
status if it’s not this year.â€

Afflalo expressed similar sentiments.

“I’m looking to get into
the first round, or else I wouldn’t be going
through all of this,†Afflalo said.
“I won’t seriously consider
leaving (UCLA) if I’m in the second round.
I’d most likely definitely be back. If
I’m looking at it now,
there’s a much better chance
I’ll be a first-rounder next
year.â€

The sophomores have until June 18 to withdraw their names from
the draft. The NBA Draft will be held on June 28.

By submitting their names for the draft without retaining an
agent, the 6-foot-2 Farmar and the 6-foot-5 Afflalo could at best
potentially crack the first round with impressive workouts, and at
worst receive valuable feedback from NBA scouts and return to
Westwood.

“They will benefit if they come back.
I’m confident of that,†Howland
said. “If they come back, God bless them,
I’ll be so happy. And if they elect to stay in
the draft and go in the first round, that’s
great too.â€

While both Farmar and Afflalo anticipated being invited to the
NBA Pre-Draft Camp in Orlando, Fla., from June 6 to 10, neither
expected as of Thursday that he would attend.

The sophomores said most of their pre-draft workouts would come
from invitations to practice from specific NBA teams, for which
Afflalo’s and Farmar’s
families would have to foot the bill for traveling expenses.

Declaring for the draft following their sophomore seasons
represents Farmar’s and
Afflalo’s only chance to test the waters of the
NBA and still return to college.

The duo cited numerous reasons why now, instead of next year,
was the right time to declare for the draft.

If UCLA had not reached the national championship game, would
Afflalo have declared?

“Probably not,†Afflalo said.

If Farmar and Afflalo didn’t think they were
ready for the NBA, would they have declared? Probably not.

“We both really feel we can play in the NBA.
That’s why the decision was made now rather than
next year,†Farmar said.

Afflalo, who led the Bruins in scoring with an average of 15.8
points per game, and Farmar, who averaged 13.5 points and a
team-best 5.1 assists per game, led UCLA to its first national
championship game appearance since 1995 and first Pac-10 title
since 1997 as they compiled a 32-7 record this season.

Because of NCAA rules, Afflalo and Farmar will become part-time
students this quarter and will have to drop one of their three
classes.

While Afflalo will be dropping his upper-division sociology
class, Farmar was reluctant to admit which class he was going to
drop, so as not to give advance warning to one of his three
professors.

In case he does remain in the draft and turns pro, however,
Farmar made an assurance the two classes he’s
taking this quarter won’t be his last.

“I’m getting my degree no
matter what,†Farmar said. “I
promised my mom that.â€

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