NORMAN — Blake Griffin called his mother first with the big news.
Before delivering it, he checked one thing.
"I made sure she wasn't driving or anything,” he said.
The Oklahoma big man didn't want her to veer off the road when he told her that he was returning for his sophomore season instead of declaring himself eligible for the NBA Draft.
As for the rest of the Sooner Nation, Griffin cannot be held accountable if their reactions took them off road.
No doubt Wednesday's announcement from the 6-foot-10 forward came as a shock to many. Griffin has soared up mock draft boards in recent weeks.
One had him ranked No. 7 and rising Wednesday morning. Pretty much every draft pundit and prognosticator had him in the top 10.
NBA types agreed.
In gathering information from scouts and general managers, Sooner coach Jeff Capel determined that Griffin would've been a top-10 pick.
"Safe to say that,” Capel said.
Griffin understood the opportunity that awaited him. He would've lived a dream. He would've been a lottery pick. He would've had a million-dollar payday.
And yet, he walked away.
How is that possible?
"It was definitely tough,” Griffin said. "Most college basketball players, their dream their whole lives is to play in the NBA. That is something that's hard to turn down.
"But at the same time, I know I wouldn't be content with just going
to the NBA.”
Griffin wants to play
Right away, too. No sitting the pine. No biding his time. Griffin wants to go to the league and make it impossible for teams to leave him on the bench.
He's seen the cautionary tales, guys like Gerald Green, who passed on an opportunity to play at Oklahoma State and jumped right from high school to the NBA. Green played for three teams in three seasons before being waived by Houston early last month.
"He's a great player,” Griffin said. "He hasn't had a lot of playing time. That's not a knock on him at all; you can think of guys from all over the country. There's very few guys that do come in and do really well their rookie season.”
True enough. Small is the number of rookie starters. Going into Wednesday's games, only seven rookies had started 30-plus games this season, and just three of those are regular starters, Seattle's Kevin Durant, Atlanta's Al Horford and Toronto's Jamario Moon.