Friday, April 10, 2009
Griffin, Moore pick up more hardware
LOS ANGELES -- Blake Griffin keeps picking up trophies on his way to the NBA.
Blake Griffin, who won the Wooden Award, announced he would enter the NBA draft earlier this week.
The Oklahoma sophomore won the John R. Wooden Award as college basketball's top player on Friday only three days after he announced that he would turn pro. DeJuan Blair and Tyler Hansbrough, two other finalists, did not show up for the ceremony, which was held at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.
Griffin, who became the first Oklahoma player to win the award, led the nation with 30 double-doubles.
"It means a lot to me to represent my state and represent my school. It's really very humbling," Griffin said.
The forward was a bit subdued during the affair, mostly because he was hungry.
"We placed our orders for dinner a while ago, so I'm waiting on that. It's been a while."
The award gave Griffin a sweep of this season's individual honors. The forward won The Associated Press player of the year earlier this month as well as the Naismith award. He was also picked by The Sporting News as player of the year.
The last two weeks have been a whirlwind for Griffin, who has a solid shot of being the number one selection in the upcoming draft.
"It's been crazy. I'm just trying to take it all in stride. Coach [Jeff] Capel and my family have been with me every step of the way. It's been a whirlwind, but it's been fun," Griffin said.
And what about that draft buzz?
"I'm going into it as I don't know where I'm going to be drafted. If I don't get drafted No. 1, it's not like this was a bad decision or this whole year was a failure."
Last year, Griffin opted out of turning pro to play alongside his brother, Taylor, and to take another crack at making a deep run into the NCAA tournament.
Oklahoma lost to Hansbrough and the Tar Heels in the regional finals.
But he had nothing bad to say about North Carolina's post player and was honored to have been mentioned along with Hansbrough and Blair for the award.
"Those two guys have been the best player and most respected in their programs, Tyler for four years and DeJuan for two. Tyler's been the face of college basketball for a long time now and he's been so consistent," Griffin said.
"DeJuan was a huge part of their team that was number one for a while. They're both part of great programs and kind of the cornerstones of it."
Maya Moore helped UConn finish 39-0 and win the national championship.
Connecticut's Maya Moore won the women's award, four days after winning the national title and completing a perfect season for UConn.
The sophomore, who became the first UConn player to win the award since it was given to women starting in 2004, beat out Oklahoma's Courtney Paris, with 176 votes to Paris' 133.
Winning the award ranked high on her list, but came in second to winning the title.
"It's up there. I think winning the national championship is the greatest thing because so many people are a part of it," Moore said.
"But to be associated with a man like John Wooden is great. He's done so much for basketball and I think is a large part of where we are today. A lot of coaches have learned from him and I've been able to benefit from the legacy he left. This is a great honor."
Her coach, Geno Auriemma, wasn't at the ceremony because of a delayed flight.
"It's OK. I'll forgive him," Moore said.
Moore had 19.3 points per game and was the Big East player of the year.
More than 300 voters choose the women's award winner and more than 1,000 voters select the men's winner.
Griffin won in a landslide, with 3,960 votes while Hansbrough, last year's winner, had 3,004.
Griffin averaged 22.7 points and 14.4 rebounds.
The awards are named for the former UCLA coach who led the Bruins to 10 NCAA championships in 12 years before retiring in 1975.
Wooden didn't attend the ceremony. His family announced in August 2005 that he would no longer participate because of a trademark dispute concerning the use of his name.