He averaged 11.5 points, and played his typical strong defense, in six NCAA Tournament games last season as UCLA reached the title game. Yet, he is best remembered for consoling weeping Gonzaga trash talker Adam Morrison while the rest of the Bruins celebrated a 17-point comeback in the regional semifinals. Afflalo’s mother, Gwendolyn Washington, said she rarely worried about her son, despite growing up amid gang violence and drug abuse on the streets of their Inglewood home. Washington said the most trouble Arron got in as a kid was in the fifth grade, when he disconnected with his teacher and wasn’t doing his school work. That was the absolute worst, she said. “My parents did a great job of raising me,” Afflalo said. “I remember talking to my best friend in class, and you get caught talking so you get this little pink slip, I didn’t get away with that. I’d get a whippin’ for it. It’s part of life, and it’s why I have my respect factor for women, and everything else. “I’m definitely a product of those two. I have my individuality, but the way I interact with people comes from the way I was brought up.” Afflalo, who lived with his mother until his teenage years, said he was raised with strict discipline. If he got out of line for even a small transgression, he was punished. He said the most trouble he got in as a kid was a few fights in grammar school, but “that was usually over something competitive.” When Afflalo moved in with his father, Benjamin Afflalo, the core values remained steadfast, and the relationship blossomed. Today, Arron and Benjamin are best of friends. “He was always someone I could depend on,” Washington said. “Even when he was a teenager, if he said he was going to go somewhere and I said for him to be back at a certain time, he was there. That’s just him.” It wasn’t much different during his playing days at Centennial High of Compton. As a senior, Afflalo was a McDonald’s all-American and led Centennial to its first Division III state title. Yet, he is best remembered for his work ethic and team-first approach. In fact, Centennial coach Rod Palmer wracked his brain for the worst thing Afflalo did, and finally came up with a doozy. “He didn’t do an assignment, in history or English, and he got in trouble for that,” Palmer said. “Honestly, I can’t think of anything bad Arron has done. He’s a great kid.” Maybe that is illustrated by what could be categorized by Afflalo’s worst decision during his UCLA career. It came last Thursday after the Bruins were knocked out in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament. Afflalo scored three points, fouled out in overtime and stood at the end of the bench the final two minutes. He walked straight into the locker room when the game ended, failing to shake hands with the California players. About a half-hour later Afflalo apologized for doing so, adamantly stating he did not mean to slight the Bears. He said the move was born out of his own humiliation from the disappointment of letting his teammates down. When asked why he took only seven shots in the game, Afflalo said he wasn’t sure. But he didn’t stop there. “I apologize for not being able to give you a better answer,” Afflalo said. And those who know Afflalo well know it was sincere. “He’s a leader, and he sets an example,” UCLA sophomore point guard Darren Collison said. “He never gets into trouble. That’s something you always want from your captain. We don’t have any seniors on our team, but I think everyone on the team looks up to Arron like he is a senior.” Each time the Bruins play the rest of the season, it could be Afflalo’s last game in a UCLA uniform. Although he has one year of eligibility remaining, Afflalo is eyeing a move to the NBA. His play as both UCLA’s defensive stopper and leading scorer (16.7 points per game) – not to mention being the “heart and soul” of the team, according to Howland – has improved his standing among NBA scouts, sources said, although it is yet to be determined whether it is enough to move him into the first round. If Afflalo returns, which sources said has 40 percent chance of happening, he has an opportunity to cement a legacy as one of the top players in school history, which he said is important to him. Either way, though, Afflalo’s legacy off the court is already in place. “Arron is the kind of kid, and I say this all the time,” Palmer said, “if I had a daughter who was looking for a husband, I would want her to find him.” firstname.lastname@example.org (818) 713-3607160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! UCLA was getting its biggest commitment in a decade, and Arron Afflalo wanted to be there to lend his support. That Kevin Love was making his announcement in Las Vegas seemed like a perfect summer getaway, but that was not part of Afflalo’s agenda. It was three months shy of Afflalo’s 21st birthday, so who could blame him for sneaking into a casino? “No, man,” Afflalo said. “I’d never even think about it.” Skeptical? Well, if it were most college kids, it would be understandable, but Afflalo is a refreshingly different breed. The next time Afflalo sips an alcoholic beverage will be the first, and drugs have never entered his body. About the only thing missing from the r sum of UCLA’s junior All-American guard is a milk mustache, and an “aw, shucks” or a “golly, sir.” “It’s refreshing, isn’t it?” Bruins coach Ben Howland said. “He’s just a really, really good kid.” Howland knows Afflalo well because, well, Afflalo plays basketball just about better than any other collegian in the country. That skill will be on display Thursday when the second-seeded Bruins (26-5) open play against No.15 seed Weber State (20-11) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Sacramento. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Afflalo is the Pacific-10 Conference Player of the Year, already a first-team All-American selection on five teams, and the driving force in UCLA’s repeat as Pac-10 regular season champions. Yet, it is not Afflalo’s basketball ability that stands out. It is everything else about Afflalo that makes him special.