AJ Griffin, who often relies on his speed, had a rotten day on the drenched grass. His thoughts wander, imagining himself throwing down dynamics on the NBA field and making a long jump.
He was only in third grade at the time and was tagged with his father, Adrian, who was an NBA assistant coach.
“When you go to the games, you see things behind the scenes,” Griffin told The Post in a phone interview. “Just because I got to see it early made my dream come true. Being surrounded by basketball all my childhood, it’s hard not to fall in love with basketball.
This dream will soon become a reality and it may happen near his home in Ossining, NY. Griffin, a 6-foot guard who is considered one of the best shooters in the draft, could fall into the Knicks with 11 and have shown considerable interest in him. Knicks brought him to individual training, attended his professional day in Los Angeles, and sources say he has devoted a lot of time to checking him out. In addition, his father, who is now Chief Raptor’s assistant, previously worked with Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau on the Bulls team.
Griffin is familiar with several team players, especially RJ Barretti and Obi Toppin. He has met Barrett a few times and played youth basketball with Toppin, a native of Westchester like Griffin.
“It would be pretty cool to play for your hometown,” Griffin said. “I played at MSG twice last year and it’s just an experience like never before.”
Griffin is one of the most talked about prospects, called the Green Room, a predicted lottery that was once considered the top 10. According to many scouts, there are questions about his consistency and athleticism. injury history.
As a sophomore in high school, he had back problems, shifted his left knee the following year, and was able to twist his right knee before Duke’s season. He was a half-time starter on the Blue Devils team this year, averaging 10.4 points and 3.9 rebounds and 44.7 percent of the three-point throw.
“There are concerns about the injuries,” said one spy. “But he chiseled the frame 6: 6 and hit three to 45 percent.”
The counterpoint to the criticism is that Griffin was on a busy team asking him to play a role as a shooter in the field, said Duke’s assistant coach Chris Carrawell. He had some monster games: 27 points in North Carolina, 21 points in the semi-finals of the ACC tournament over Miami, 18 points in the elite eight against Arkansas. Griffin did not have a senior high school season due to COVID-19, and he had an early knee injury this year that slowed his progress.
“Everyone has their own timing and you just keep working,” Griffin said. “I’ve seen progress.”
He added: “I feel I can show a lot more [than I did in college]. ”
ESPN College basketball analyst and draft guru Fran Fraschilla didn’t see the same athleticism in Duke as in high school, but attributed some of it to injuries and sees an extremely high ceiling for Griffin who won’t turn. 19 to August.
“He definitely has everything he thinks you need to become a very good NBA player,” Fraschilla said. “I think it will take a few years.”
Griffin has been involved in the game all his life, and as the youngest of three siblings, he was pushed at a young age. For years he lost to his older brother Alan and his sister Aubrey. They also played Division I college basketball in Alan, Illinois and Syracuse, and Aubrey is currently in Connecticut. It made him work harder and instilled in him a competitive spirit.
As a freshman of Archbishop Stepinac, Griffin was considered one of the best prospects in the country and was one of the most sought-after recruiters in the country. He has won every level, helping Stepinac win the state championship as a freshman and next year’s city title, contributing to Duke’s Final Four last season and winning the FIBA Americas Gold Medal with the US Basketball U-16. High school.
All of this has led to the moment – Thursday’s draft night at the Barclays Center – when Griffin becomes the first Stepinac alumni to choose the first round and join his father in the NBA.
“It will be no other,” he said. “Sharing this moment with my family is just an amazing time and it’s definitely a memory I won’t forget.”
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