Jan. 15, 2008
By Ivan Santana, UCLA Sports Information Writer
There are a lot of words to describe Alfred Aboya. Physical, imposing, and athletic usually come to mind as the junior power forward has the build and abilities that Olympians dream about. But the fires of Aboya's introspective focus come from the fuel in his head and in his heart. When pressed about ambitions, he talks about obtaining a master's degree. When asked where his pride lies, he points to his academic success. When wondering about the experiences that basketball has brought him, he fawns over his exposure to different cultures because of it.
Aboya's attitude toward life couldn't be clearer than when asked what he is most proud of accomplishing so far at UCLA. The two-time Final Four participant and member of two Pac-10 Conference championship teams, quickly replies: "I am most proud of what I have done academically, hands down. UCLA is a great academic school and I am extremely fortunate to have a chance to study here. Basketball has brought me to this university and I am proud of the education."
Further putting aside deluded dreams of multi-million dollar NBA contracts and material possessions, Alfred explains what is next on his horizon: "I will probably start a master's program and continue working on my world-class education. But it is still early, so I will continue focusing on what's in front of me and decide on my next step when the time comes."
Aboya's education extends beyond the blackboard and the hardwood. Having played in two Final Fours and in countless other unique environments, he has experienced a lot on the basketball court. But coming from Cameroon, his path to major college basketball is much different from a lot of the players not only at UCLA but also around the United States. When asked what he has taken from his journey, he explains: "I have stressed the importance of learning from everything. Everywhere you go, you are new to the environment and the people, so it's important that you learn from your exposure to them. We can learn many new things every single day."
With direction like this, it is no surprise that Aboya has been integral in anchoring a UCLA basketball squad that is primed to make another run at the national championship. But even if the Bruins never get there, Alfred will take the experience for all it is worth.
"Being in the United States has been a great experience for me because of the vastly different cultures and mentalities I have encountered," he said. "I will definitely use all of this to my advantage when I am done with basketball. In my professional life, I will absolutely be able to utilize the lessons that I have learned."