Posted on: December 20, 2011 11:48 am
Edited on: December 20, 2011 11:55 am

Griffin could be first NBA player from Campbell

By Jeff Borzello

WILMINGTON, N.C. – Campbell University has never had a player reach the NBA. Considering the Fighting Camels have only reached one NCAA tournament, that’s probably not a surprise.

Could Campbell break through and produce an NBA prospect this season? The school has its best chance in years with senior forward Eric Griffin.

Prior to Monday night’s game against UNC-Wilmington, DraftExpress.com’s Jonathan Givony tipped me off about Griffin. Givony compared him to Jeremy Evans, the former Western Kentucky forward who was drafted by the Utah Jazz in 2010. In college, Evans wasn’t highly touted, but he was efficient from the field and a very good shot-blocker.

Givony’s pick didn’t disappoint. Griffin had 18 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and three blocks in the last-second loss to UNCW. He might have finished with about 30 points and 18 boards if he didn’t go 2-for-9 from the free-throw line or disappear in the last eight minutes.

Griffin is athletic, long, and runs the floor like a gazelle. He has surprisingly good passing ability, and can also knock down 3-pointers or go off the dribble. Moreover, he has great footwork around the rim. Just check out the first two dunks from the video below to get a preview of what he can do.

Here’s the kicker: Griffin has only been playing basketball for five years.

“He’s definitely improved,” Campbell head coach Robbie Laing said. “His composure, his patience is better. He’s really raw. He has to adapt every night to whatever arena he’s in, how the game is being called, what size guy is guarding him. It’s part of the maturation process. He doesn’t have a lot of basketball minutes.”

Griffin, a 6-foot-8 forward from Orlando, was cut from his high school team his junior year, a source told CBSSports.com. He grew five inches after that, and then went to two community colleges – Hiwassee and Garden City – before landing at Campbell.

“Where he was in JUCO to where he is now is night and day,” the source said.

On the season, Griffin is averaging 17.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game, while shooting nearly 65 percent from the field. His performances in back-to-back games against Iowa and Creighton put him on the national radar. In a 16-point win over the Hawkeyes, Griffin went 10-for-11 from the field, finishing with 23 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks. He followed that up with 29 points and 14 boards vs. Creighton.

Laing said that Griffin still needs to work on some of the little things in order to reach his full potential, but his ceiling is very high. Interestingly, Griffin is also young for his grade, which makes him more intriguing to NBA types.

“He could be really special,” Laing said. “We’re getting inquiries from the next level, people are stopping by to watch us. That will be up to him and his maturation.”

Photo: Campbell University (Bennett Scarbrough)

Posted on: May 13, 2011 4:35 pm
Edited on: May 13, 2011 4:39 pm

Recruiting Notebook: Thornwell on the rise

Posted by Jeff Borzello

The class of 2013 is going to be known for its depth at the wing position, and one player making his way up the rankings is Sindarius Thornwell.

Thornwell, a 6-foot-4 sophomore from Lancaster (S.C.), makes an immediate impact because of his length and athleticism. He handles the ball and distributes well for someone his size, and is also adept at finishing.

“I’m quick and I can handle the ball,” Thornwell said. “I’m always attacking and I play defense.”

Plenty of colleges have taken notice of the versatile 2013 prospect.

Thornwell currently holds offers from South Carolina, Clemson, Tennessee State, Georgia Southern and Charlotte. He also has interest from Louisville, UCF and the entire ACC besides North Carolina and Duke.

Thornwell, who has visited Clemson and South Carolina, knows exactly what he needs in a school.

“I’m looking for playing style, good academics and playing time,” he said. “That’s it.”

2013 big man looking to improve

Most 6-foot-10 sophomores can get by on size and length alone. Andre Walker, on the other hand, is constantly looking to get better.

As it stands, he is a talented but raw big man who can run the floor and finish after he catches it.

“I need to make strong moves and play better defense,” Walker said. “I need to get better, get stronger. I also want to work on my perimeter game. I’m working hard.”

The Clarksburg (Md.) native is hearing from DePaul, Washington State, VCU, Northwestern, George Mason and Maryland.

Whitfield transfers to team with Tyler Lewis

North Carolina is loaded with prospects in the class of 2012. One player flying under the radar is Shane Whitfield, a 6-foot-5 forward.

In an attempt to make a name for himself, Whitfield is transferring next year to Forsyth Country Day School (N.C.). There, he will team up with North Carolina State commit Tyler Lewis in hopes of increasing his recruitment.

“It’s better competition,” Whitfield said. “I want to get better everyday.”

Right now, Whitfield has offers from Delaware, American, Campbell and Holy Cross, with interest from Richmond, Charlotte and East Carolina.

Other notes:

- A Texas team in need of impact players could pick up one this weekend. Recently available Sterling Gibbs and North Carolina State transfer Ryan Harrow are both visiting Austin this weekend.

- Unsigned 2011 center Daouda Soumaoro is currently on an official visit to Washington. Soumaoro took a trip to St. John’s recently, and said he enjoyed it.

- Top-50 2012 forward Ricardo Gathers is taking an unofficial visit to St. John’s this weekend. The Louisiana native also wants to take a trip to Florida.

Photo: 6manbasketball.com 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com