Griffin Big 12 Player of the Year
March 8, 2009
NORMAN, Okla. – University of Oklahoma sophomore forward Blake Griffin was named the Big 12 men's basketball player of the year on Sunday in a vote of the league's head coaches. Griffin was a unanimous pick for first-team All-Big 12 honors. OU guard Willie Warren was a unanimous choice as Big 12 Freshman of the Year and was a second-team all-conference selection. Oklahoma senior guard Austin Johnson earned honorable mention all-league acclaim.
The 6-10, 251-pound Griffin leads the Big 12 in scoring (22.1 ppg), rebounding (14.2 rpg) and field goal percentage (.634) while ranking fourth in blocked shots (1.3 bpg). He is also averaging 2.4 assists per contest, more than any other Big 12 player taller than 6-foot-5, and ranks second on the team with 1.2 steals per game.
Griffin, who was the coaches' preseason choice for player of the year, has set a single-season OU record with his 25 double-doubles (three shy of the Big 12 record). He has already set a Big 12 single-season mark with his 425 rebounds. The Oklahoma City native also has 13 games of at least 20 points and 15 rebounds this year, eclipsing the previous league record of seven.
With the help of the only 40/20 game in Big 12 history (career highs of 40 points and 23 rebounds Feb. 14 against Texas Tech), Griffin is averaging 27.3 points and 19.0 rebounds over his last four full games.
Warren, a 6-4, 207-pounder from Fort Worth, Texas, leads all Big 12 freshmen with his 14.7 points per contest. He adds 3.1 assists and 1.2 steals per game, and has made a team-high 56 3-pointers (shooting .378 from behind the arc). Warren, who ranks 10th in the league with his .779 free throw mark, has scored at least 20 points seven times on the year. He is the first OU true freshman to score 30 points twice in a season since Tim McCalister in 1983-84.
The 6-3, 176-pound Johnson averaged 10.6 points and shot .400 from 3-point range in Big 12 play. He was especially good from 3-point distance in conference road games, shooting .486 (18-for-37). On the season, he leads OU with his 3.9 assists per game and ranks third in the league with his 2.6 assist-to-turnover ratio. He has 25 blocked shots for a 0.8 average, the highest among Big 12 guards.
Joining Griffin as first-team All-Big 12 selections were Iowa State's Craig Brackins, Kansas' Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins, and Missouri's DeMarre Carroll. Joining Warren on the second team were Kansas State's Denis Clemente, Oklahoma State's James Anderson and Texas' A.J. Abrams and Damion James. The third team consists of Baylor's Curtis Jerrells, Colorado's Cory Higgins, Missouri's Leo Lyons, Nebraska's Ade Dagunduro, Oklahoma State's Byron Eaton and Texas A&M's Josh Carter. Other honorable mention all-league picks were Baylor's LaceDarius Dunn and Kevin Rogers, Kansas State's Jacob Pullen, Missouri's J.T. Tiller, Oklahoma State's Terrel Harris, Texas' Justin Mason and Texas A&M's Derrick Roland.
Clemente was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, Aldrich and Tiller were named Co-Big 12 Defensive Players of the Year and Dunn and Missouri's Matt Lawrence were named Co-Big 12 Sixth Men of the Year. Kansas' Bill Self was named Big 12 Coach of the Year.
The fourth-ranked Sooners, who are 27-4 overall, tied their best ever Big 12 performance with a 13-3 mark and are the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship. They will play in Thursday's quarterfinals round at 6 p.m. CDT inside Oklahoma City's Ford Center against No. 7 seed Oklahoma State or No. 10 seed Iowa State.