How Trae Young has followed Blake Griffin's path toward national renown
Griffin took home the Naismith Trophy for National Player of the Year in 2009
CBS Sports is looking back at several of the defining college basketball players of the past and their Naismith Player of the Year victories. This edition of the series, sponsored by Citizen Watch, stars Oklahoma legend Blake Griffin and his spectacular 2008-09 season.
Blake Griffin grew up in the shadows of the University of Oklahoma's Lloyd Noble Center. Griffin was a top-25 five-star recruit coming out of his Oklahoma high school. And he spurned numerous opportunities elsewhere to play for the in-state Sooners.
Sound familiar? Current Sooners star Trae Young can relate.
Griffin, like Young, burst onto the scene as a freshman. He averaged 14.7 points and 9.1 rebounds per game in 2007-08 and proved himself to be a stellar NBA prospect. But before he made the leap to the pros, he starred for two seasons for the Sooners en route to eventually sweeping the postseason awards in 2009, including being named Naismith Men's Player of the Year as only a sophomore.
And it wasn't really all that close, either.
Griffin, a bruising 6-10 sophomore, led the nation with 14.4 rebounds per game and put up a cool 22.7 points per game -- remarkable numbers in their own regard, and even more impressive when you consider his production was largely reliant upon others passing him the ball or him cleaning up messes left around the rim. No, he didn't lead the nation in two categories like Young has (points and assists), but it's hard to imagine a more dominant big man.
Griffin led Oklahoma to within a game of the Final Four that season before leaping to the NBA to become the No. 1 pick, and he put up a gaudy 28.5 points and 15 rebounds while shooting 78 percent from the floor in a March Madness run that was ended by eventual national champion North Carolina in the Elite Eight.
Young's stellar freshman season may go down as the most impressive in Oklahoma basketball history, however Griffin's impact in innumerable ways on the court -- and his Naismith Award off it -- will forever keep him in the upper tier of a pantheon of a lengthy list of Sooners legends.
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