Griffin, the Big 12 Player of the Year, accepted the Naismith Trophy from Barry Goheen, Atlanta Tipoff Club Chairman, David Christopher, AT&T's Chief Marketing Officer, Mobility & Consumer, and Gary Stokan, Atlanta Tipoff Club president, at the AT&T National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Guardians of the Game awards program on April 5 at the Max M. Fisher Music Center.
Griffin was chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country. Fan voting via text message also accounted for 25 percent of the final results. The board based its criteria on player performances this season.
"I don't really know what to say," remarked Griffin following the awards program. "This has been an incredible past four days, and the Naismith Award is the perfect way to cap off the trip. I've been blessed to receive tremendous support and education from my parents, my brother and my coaches, and from many others. I thank each and every one of them, and especially my teammates, for everything they've done for me."
A 6-10 forward, Griffin led the nation in rebounding (14.4 per game) and double-doubles (30) while ranking second in field goal percentage (.654) and 11th in scoring (22.7). He also averaged 2.3 assists and led the Sooners with 41 blocked shots. His rebounding, double-double and field goal marks all set Oklahoma and Big 12 Conference single-season records. The Oklahoma City native had 15 games of at least 20 points and 15 rebounds this year, more than doubling the previous league record of seven. He led the Sooners to a 30-6 record and the South Regional final where they lost to North Carolina.
"This is a tremendous honor for Blake, and a deserved one," said Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel. "He was magnificent for us all season and everyone associated with our program is proud of what he's accomplished. Blake has dedicated himself to the game of basketball like no other player I've coached and the results speak for themselves. More impressive than his basketball ability, though, is his life approach and how he carries himself off the court. Blake is a much better person than he is a basketball player."
This season marks the 40th anniversary of the first Naismith Trophy, which was first presented to UCLA's Lew Alcindor, who is known today as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. At the time, the Atlanta Tipoff Club, founded during the 1956-57 basketball season, was looking to create a national identity for its brand and created the award to honor the best basketball player in the nation. Alcindor, along with UCLA head coach John Wooden, flew to Atlanta in the spring of 1969 to receive the trophy. Today, the Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T is regarded as the most prestigious national basketball award and is given annually to the men's college basketball player of the year.
The honors concluded a busy Detroit awards tour in which Griffin also claimed the Rupp Trophy (Commonwealth Athletic Club of Kentucky), the Oscar Robertson Trophy (U.S. Basketball Writers Association) and the AP Player of the Year Trophy, and was named the Chevrolet Player of the Year. The John R. Wooden Award winner will be announced Friday, April 10 at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.