NORMAN – As Oklahoma’s 2008-09 basketball season played out, Blake Griffin’s place in the college game crystallized.
He’d passed it by.
Griffin – the consensus and overwhelming national Player of the Year as a sophomore – confirmed as much Tuesday, announcing his intention to enter the NBA Draft.
No individual and few teams found a way to contain Griffin in a second season that saw him average 22.7 points and an NCAA-best 14.4 rebounds. He led the Sooners to a 30-6 record and a spot in the Elite Eight. And he turned the player of the year race into a futile chase for others, including reigning awards holder Tyler Hansbrough of North Carolina, running away with every major honor.
Now, as he stands similarly alone atop NBA mock drafts, it’s time to test his game at the next level.
Kansas coach Bill Self, whose teams faced Griffin for just five minutes in two games spanning two seasons – due to injuries – still came away fully impressed by the Sooner star through preparation.
“In the last few years,” Self said in accepting AP Coach of the Year award in Detroit, “I had the chance to try and stop players like Kevin Durant of Texas, Michael Beasley of Kansas State and Blake Griffin, three of the most dominant players in the country.