Once Blake Griffin stopped and really thought about his future, it didn't take long for him to reach a decision.
Griffin announced yesterday that he will give up his final two years of eligibility and head to the NBA after a sophomore season at Oklahoma in which he was honored as college basketball's top player. It was a choice coach Jeff Capel called a "no-brainer," with Griffin establishing himself as a likely candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick in June.
"I felt in my mind from the time that I actually thought about it that this would be the right decision," said Griffin at a press conference in Norman, Okla. "I remember talking to Coach Capel last year after I made my decision of coming back and he said I had the chance to be in this position and I should take it.
"This has been a dream for me. It has been a dream for a lot of guys. I was really comfortable with the decision this time around."
Griffin led the nation with 30 double-doubles and 14.4 rebounds per game while also averaging a Big 12-best 22.7 points. In the NCAA Tournament, he was even better - averaging 28.5 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Sooners to the regional finals.
Kentucky guard Jodie Meeks
will test the NBA waters before deciding whether to return for his senior year. Meeks will submit his name for the NBA draft but will not hire an agent. He averaged 23.7 points last season - eighth in the country and tops in the Southeastern Conference. Meeks sounded optimistic about coming back last week after the Wildcats hired coach John Calipari
to replace Billy Gillispie
. "I'm going to give [Calipari] a fair chance," Meeks said. Meeks has until June 15 to remove his name from the draft . . . Arizona junior forward Chase Budinger
said he is hiring an agent and will make himself available for the NBA draft . . . South Carolina junior guard Devan Downey
is making himself eligible for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, meaning he can still return to school.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo
and his players returned to the Breslin Center on the East Lansing campus late yesterday morning, with the hoarse Izzo thanking the waiting fans for their support following the Spartans' 89-72 loss to North Carolina in Monday night's championship game. Many Spartans fans were a little too enthusiastic directly after the game as the East Lansing Police Department reported 21 fires and 21 arrests in the city . . . North Carolina's blowout win drew an 11.9 overnight rating and 19 share on CBS, down 7 percent from last year's 12.8/20 for a much more closely contested championship game, when Kansas beat Memphis in overtime. CBS said this year's NCAA Tournament averaged a 6.3 overnight rating and 13 share. That's up 5 percent from 2008.
It was announced during Sean Miller's
introductory press conference at Arizona that the new coach will earn a base salary of $2 million per year throughout his five-year contract, with a $1 million signing bonus and the potential to add another $985,000 per year in contract incentives . . . Washington State (Ken Bone
) and Memphis (Josh Pastner
) also introduced their new coaches at press conferences . . . Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon
has been named the Naismith men's coach of the year after leading the Panthers to a school-record 31 wins and the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament.
OU to Paris: Keep the change Courtney Paris
might as well hang on to her money. Oklahoma doesn't plan to collect on her failed national championship guarantee any time soon. The senior center had promised that she would repay the university for all four years of her scholarship if the Sooners didn't win their first national championship, but athletic director Joe Castiglione
told the AP he doesn't plan to hold her to it. "The contributions she has already made to this program are enormous and for that we'll always be grateful," Castiglione said . . . UMass seniors Tony Gaffney
and Chris Lowe
will play in the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational Tournament, an NBA predraft camp that runs today through Saturday . . . Michael Jordan's
youngest son, Marcus
, a 6-foot-3-inch guard, will play at Central Florida next season.
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