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AA is the story this week in Bruins Nation. As usually he was impeccable in his press conference, saying all the right things on why he made his decision:

Afflalo had until April 29 to decide but said Tuesday, "It's time for me to move on, do some different things. I hope everybody understands this is a well-thought-out decision."

Though Afflalo said he had shed tears, his voice was unwavering.

UCLA Coach Ben Howland said that Afflalo was making the correct choice. Howland also said he recommended that Afflalo, who is 10 credits short of graduation, withdraw from class this quarter so that he could fully concentrate on getting ready for the draft June 28.

"I pretty much called this press conference alongside Coach not to give reasons but to give thanks," Afflalo said. "It's been a wonderful three years here. I've learned a lot, matured physically and mentally more than I can imagine."
FWIW AA did say he intends to come back and finish up those 10 credits. And I am sure he will. Meanwhile, Coach Howland is doing everything he can to help out AA.

Once again he is sending a clear cut signal to all elite recruits in the West Coast, and the entire country that unlike other elite coaches who often get grumpy when their star players leave school early, he sticks with his guys. Howland is leaving no stones unturned to make sure AA gets the best information he needs to wade himself through a tricky draft process:
Howland said he'll always be grateful to Afflalo, who was his first recruit at UCLA. Howland always has praised Afflalo for his defensive abilities and unselfishness. Afflalo consulted Howland, teammates and parents regarding his decision.

"Arron will end up being a first-round pick," Howland said. "I've done a lot of research and talking to NBA GMs over the last week, since our arrival, and there's a lot of people who are very excited about Arron. He'll have a long and fruitful career in the NBA. He brings so many things to the table. ... But it's all based on the fact that he is No. 1 about making his team win and being a great teammate and being unselfish, playing both ends of the floor, and that equates to exactly what those coaches are looking for at the next level."
Any team would be lucky to have a kid like him. And if you think success in the NBA may change him as person, he has these words for you:
"I played the game for the fun of it, for love," he said. "The world is a lot smaller when you're at a younger age. Then you get exposed to different things and your mind expands, but I try to keep that child mentality to play the game in its purest form — for the love of it. So I think I'll be the same guy. This won't change me."
I am crossing my fingers hoping AA gets himself drafted by the right team where he would be a great fit.

Meanwhile, UCLA will move on. And we are going to be more than all right. We will get into next year’s lineup once next few weeks shake out. However, AA didn’t wait to make his predictions for near future:
With highly-touted recruit Kevin Love on the way, no one was kicking Afflalo out. Afflalo was just kicking himself for not helping UCLA win a national championship. "I'll be a little jealous once these guys put up that 12th banner," Afflalo said.
I know it’s baseball season. So let me end with this little note.

I was thinking about AA yesterday and was thinking which sports figure he reminds me most of. And it just dawned on me. AA reminds me of none other than Don Mattingly. I grew up rooting for the Yankees because I got caught up in Donnie Baseball. Mattingly just like AA represented the greatest team in his respective sports with grace, dignity, while performing at the highest level on the field (ok AA didn’t have someone like Georgie micromanaging a UCLA program who'd told him he had to shave his sideburns to appear clean cut neither did Mattingly got to play for a manager like Howland until he got to play for Torre in his last year as a player).

So what did AA and Mattingly have in common? They both got soooo close. In Mattingly’s last year the Pinstripers lost a heart breaking series to the Mariners (1995) which turned out to be his last chance to get a shot to play in Fall Classic. (As mentioned above that was Torre’s first year in Big Apple). What happened right after Mattingly left? Yanks went on that championship run starting in 96.

Bruins are after all the Yankees of college basketball. So perhaps there will be poetic symmetry between the careers of two of the greatest leaders for these two classic institutions in American sports.

That's the way I see my sports world shaping up going into next season. Bruins are losing one of the team captains they have ever had. But we are going to roll right along.

GO BRUINS.