NORMAN — Jeff Capel knew it the first time he saw Blake Griffin play. An AAU tournament in Houston, the Kingwood Classic. Capel was two weeks into his job as the OU basketball coach, two harrowing weeks in which Kelvin Sampson’s recruits were starting to bolt and Capel’s immediate prospects were dim.
"I was blown away,” Capel said. "I hadn’t seen a guy with that size and that strength and that incredible athleticism. "I knew he was a guy we had to have. I also knew when we got him, we wouldn’t have him for long.” Two years, to be exact. Griffin made it official Tuesday, declaring for the NBA Draft after one of the most dominant college seasons in years. And Capel remains blown away. Griffin is more than ready for the NBA. He’s ready to be a star. Capel doesn’t claim to be an NBA expert, but "one thing I know, they draft on potential,” Capel said. "And as good as he is, no one in the draft has the potential he has. He’s just scratched the surface. "I think he has a chance to be special. Really be one of the great ones.” Griffin is going to be the No. 1 pick in the draft; everyone knows that. The question on No. 1 picks is this: Are they in the Andrew Bogut/Andrea Bargnani crowd, or the Tim Duncan/Dwight Howard crowd? Griffin belongs in the latter. The can’t-miss club. Capel called Griffin the best player he’s ever been around or coached, and one of the two best people, ranking with world-class Grant Hill. Griffin is the total package. Fundamentally sound. Great raising resulting in solid character. All-universe talent. As a rookie, Griffin will be in the NBA’s top five percentile in strength and jumping ability, and one of the fastest big men in the league. "He has not reached his potential yet,” said Tommy Griffin, Blake’s father but a no-nonsense coach himself who is no Little League dad.
Key NBA Draft Dates
→April 26: Early entry eligibility deadline (10:59 p.m.) →May 19: NBA Draft Lottery →June 15: Early entrant withdrawal deadline (4 p.m.) →June 25: NBA Draft
What is the Draft Lottery?
The Draft Lottery is held each year for the league’s 14 non-playoff teams to determine which teams will be awarded the top three picks in the June Draft. Selections four through 14 are determined in reverse order of the teams’ won-loss records. How it works
Fourteen ping-pong balls numbered one to 14 are placed in a drum. There are 1,001 possible combinations when four balls are drawn out of 14, regardless of selected numerical order. Before the lottery, 1,000 numerical combinations are assigned to the 14 lottery teams, with the most combinations going to the team with the worst record. (One numerical combination is tossed out). Four balls are then drawn one at a time to generate a four-digit combination. The team that has been assigned that combination will receive the first pick. The balls are placed back in the drum, and the process is repeated to determine which teams will select second and third. By Darnell Mayberry
How Much Will Griffin Make?: $4,983,480
Under the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft is slotted to make $4,152,900 in his first year’s salary, according to the rookie scale contracts. NBA rules, however, permit teams to sign draft picks for as little as 80 percent of the scale salary or up to 120 percent. Since teams often sign players for up to the max, Blake Griffin’s first-year salary will be $4,983,480 if he is the top overall selection.