ST. LOUIS (USBWA) Oklahoma sophomore sensation Blake Griffin had been considered the frontrunner for men's basketball national player of the year honors for most of the season and when voting came for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, members of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association left no doubt who their choice was for the best college player in the nation.
The 6-10, 251-pound Griffin was a unanimous choice by voters in all nine geographical districts of the USBWA to give the University of Oklahoma the school's first-ever player of the year award winner. He was chosen from a group of 15 finalists.
After leading the Sooners (30-6) into the South Regional Final before losing to North Carolina, Griffin finished the season averaging 22.7 points and 14.4 rebounds. He shot 65.4 percent from the field for the year.
During the regular season, Griffin led the Big 12 in scoring (22.1), rebounding (14.2, which led the country) and field goal percentage (.634) while ranking fourth in blocked shots (1.3). He also averaged 2.4 assists per contest, more than any other Big 12 player taller than 6-5. He was also second on the team with 1.2 steals per game.
At the end of the regular season, Griffin had set a single-season OU record with his 25 double-doubles (tied for the national lead and three shy of the Big 12 record) and a Big 12 single-season mark with 425 rebounds. The Oklahoma City native also had 13 games of at least 20 points and 15 rebounds this year, eclipsing the previous league record of seven.
With the help of the only 40 point/20 rebound game in Big 12 history (career highs of 40 points and 23 rebounds Feb. 14 vs. Texas Tech), Griffin entered postseason play averaging 27.3 points and 19.0 rebounds over his last four full games.
The Oscar Robertson Trophy will be presented by Oscar Robertson on Friday, April 3 at the USBWA's annual awards breakfast at the downtown Detroit Athletic Club in conjunction with the Men's Final Four. The breakfast will also honor Kansas coach Bill Self, winner of the Henry Iba Award as the association's coach of the year, as well as the 1979 Michigan State national championship team that was led by Earvin "Magic" Johnson. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo will also receive the USBWA's Good Guy Award.
The Oscar Robertson Trophy is voted on by the entire membership of the association, which consists of nearly 800 journalists. It is the nation's oldest award and the only one named after a former player. The legendary Oscar Robertson was the USBWA's first player of the year in 1959. The USBWA renamed its player of the year award the Oscar Robertson Trophy in 1998.
For tickets to the USBWA Awards Breakfast, visit the USBWA website, usbwa.com.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. Today, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball. For more information on the USBWA and its awards, contact executive director Joe Mitch at 314-421-0339.