NORMAN, Oklahoma — The University of Oklahoma's athletics performance center at Lloyd Noble Center, which will start being constructed next month, will be named after former OU basketball player Blake Griffin in recognition of his financial gift, the largest ever to OU by a former Sooner basketball player. The naming was approved during Thursday's OU Board of Regents meeting.
Griffin committed in August to help financially support the construction of the approximately 18,400-gross-square foot training center, which will take 12 months to complete. The addition, which will be built south of the men's and women's basketball's two existing practice gyms and will help enhance strength training facilities for both men's and women's programs, as well other Sooner student-athletes, will be called the Blake Griffin Performance Center. The approximate total cost of the project is $7 million."Being a Sooner is more than just what you do in competition," said Griffin, who was the 2009 consensus national player of the year and the No. 1 overall pick in that year’s NBA Draft. "I am thankful to have had the opportunity to play OU basketball, which has a legacy of people that have made it great. College is such a critical time in an athlete's playing career and it's my honor to help give the men's and women's teams the resources and technology that will give them the best opportunity to succeed. I am humbled that OU has chosen to name this facility after me, and I am really excited to see this high-performance training center come to life."
The Blake Griffin Performance Center will be the first of its kind among the nation's collegiate basketball programs. Some of the many features will include basketball training courts, free weights, indoor turf, outdoor turf with sand pit, spaces for plyometric and cardiovascular training, cardio and strength testing, locker rooms, an exam and recovery area, a fueling station, a multi-purpose room and overhead fresh-air doors.
"We are grateful for the generosity of Blake Griffin, who is one of the most outstanding basketball players in OU history," said OU President David L. Boren. "It is especially heartwarming when a talented former OU student-athlete gives back to his alma mater in order to provide opportunities for students who will come in the future."
Vice President and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione echoed Boren's thanks and spoke about what the performance center means for the future of the OU basketball programs.
"I'd like to express our sincere gratitude to Blake and the Griffin family for their continued support of our university and our athletics department, and for helping to further enhance the robust tradition of OU basketball," said Castiglione. "We're proud that Blake, as a native Oklahoman, chose to be a Sooner, and we're proud of his incredible accomplishments here as a student-athlete. Now he is helping make it possible for future Sooners to follow in his footsteps as they pursue excellence.
"We appreciate not just Blake's financial support, but also his technical knowledge throughout this process of positioning our current and future student-athletes to have one of the best — if not the best — performance centers in the country. The Blake Griffin Performance Center will allow our coaches and players to mix training and technology at the highest of levels. We are excited about having the infrastructure in place to meet training needs now while also having the flexibility to accommodate future needs. It will also allow for Blake and other former Sooners who are playing professionally a place to adequately train when they are visiting Norman."Griffin, who became Oklahoma'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.
Griffin led the Sooners to the 2009 Elite Eight, averaging 28.5 points, 15.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists in four NCAA Tournament games. He averaged 22.7 points, 14.4 boards and 2.3 assists per game overall that season as OU climbed to No. 2 in the rankings after starting 25-1. It finished 30-6 and ranked No. 7 in both major polls.
Griffin had his No. 23 honored by OU last March and it hangs from the Lloyd Noble Center rafters.
In six-plus campaigns with the Los Angeles Clippers, Griffin owns career averages of 21.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game while shooting .518 from the field. He was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 2011.