NORMAN - Five-time NBA All-Star and former OU basketball standout Blake Griffin met with members of the Sooner Club in Oklahoma City last Thursday to promote the upcoming construction of the High Performance Center Addition coming to Lloyd Noble Center. Griffin was in town with the Los Angeles Clippers to play the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday and made Thursday’s gathering a priority while in OKC.
"We've seen facilities all over the NBA and this facility, once it's done, will be one of the best I've seen at the college level or pro level."
— Blake Griffin
The approximately 16,000-gross-square-foot High Performance Center will be constructed south of the men's and women's basketball's two existing practice facilities, and will help enhance strength training facilities for both programs, as well other Sooner student-athletes.
In August, Griffin committed the largest gift ever by a former OU basketball player to go toward the project. Now, he’s encouraging Sooner fans to get involved in the future of Oklahoma basketball.
“I think back to the first time I visited the University of Oklahoma with my brother and seeing the practice facility,” said Griffin. “At the time it was one of the best in the country and I was excited to have a place that 24 hours a day, 365 days a year you can go and work out. That to me was exciting. I think Coach Coale and Coach Kruger would say that the best athletes they’ve had have hung their hats on hard work. This facility is something that gives them the opportunity to do that and takes their game to the next level, which ultimately takes our programs to the next level.”
The evening including brief messages from OU Vice President and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione and head men’s and women’s basketball coaches Lon Kruger and Sherri Coale, followed by a question and answer session with Griffin.
Blake and Taylor Griffin with head coach Lon Kruger at a Sooner Club event promoting the High Performance Center.
“We really appreciate Blake being here,” Kruger said in his address. “We know that during the NBA season that’s not easy to do…This facility is going to put us ahead of the curve. That’s something that Joe [Castiglione] has always done with facilities and this is another example of something that sets the bar very high.”
The OU Board of Regents approved new design modifications for the High Performance Center Addition project in June. The initial project was approved in May 2015.
The main modification to the future facility merges both the strength and performance assessment centers into one structure. Added enhancements also include a nutrition center, indoor and outdoor turfs, as well as a multi-purpose space designed for performance testing and assessment. The estimated total cost of the project is $7 million.
"Joe does a great job every year of asking what they can provide to help us coach the best and the brightest,” said Coale. “This facility is state of the art. It will not only help us train our student-athletes, but rehabilitate them after injuries. To have that all on site and to have access to it all day will be an unbelievable gift to our kids. I want to personally thank Taylor [Griffin] and Blake for all that they do in representing the University of Oklahoma."
While playing for Oklahoma, Griffin became OU’s first winner of the Naismith Award, Wooden Award and Oscar Robertson Trophy, ranks first at OU in career field goal percentage (.618), second in rebounds per game (11.8), third in double-doubles (40), sixth in points per game (18.8), ninth in rebounds (805) and 18th in points (1,278) despite playing just two seasons.
The High Performance Center will be built just south of the current men's and women's basketball practice facilities at Lloyd Noble Center.
Now in his seventh NBA campaign, Griffin is averaging 20.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.3 steals in the first 11 games of the 2016-17 season. His Clippers currently own an NBA-best record of 10-1.
Through his travels throughout the NBA schedule, Griffin has seen what goes into a game-changing workout facility.
"We've seen facilities all over the NBA and this facility, once it’s done, will be one of the best I've seen at the college level or pro level,” said Griffin. “This will put us up there. I think it's an important thing and I think it's something that everyone should get behind."
To explore options on how to contribute to the High Performance Center Addition project at Lloyd Noble Center, contact the Sooner Club at 405-325-8000.