Griffin Turning Pro
Blake Griffin's coach called it a no-brainer for the Oklahoma forward to leave for the NBA.
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Griffin will give up his final two seasons of eligibility after the sophomore was honored by The Associated Press and several other groups as college basketball's player of the year.
``It wasn't a decision to really debate because it's the right one, and it's the best thing for Blake,'' Sooners coach Jeff Capel said, sitting alongside Griffin at a campus news conference.
Arizona junior forward Chase Budinger is also headed to the NBA. Two star SEC junior guards - Kentucky's Jodie Meeks and South Carolina's Devan Downey - have declared for the draft without hiring an agent, leaving the option of returning to school.
Griffin led the nation with 30 double-doubles and 14.4 rebounds per game while averaging a Big 12-best 22.7 points. In the NCAA tournament, he was even better - averaging 28.5 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Sooners to the regional finals, where they lost to eventual national champion North Carolina.
walk away from something like this but at the same time, it's a big opportunity and I felt like I was ready for it this year,'' Griffin said.
Budinger said he is hiring an agent, which would end his eligibility.
He averaged 18 points and 6.2 rebounds and scored 19 points per game in the Wildcats' three NCAA tournament games.
Arizona point guard Nic Wise said he will make himself available for the draft but won't hire an agent.
Meeks averaged 23.7 points last season - eighth in the country and tops in the Southeastern Conference - and poured in a school-record 54 points in a win over Tennessee in January.
He also led the SEC in 3-point percentage (40.6), 3-pointers per game (3.25) and free-throw percentage (90.2).
Meeks sounded optimistic about coming back last week after the Wildcats hired John Calipari.
``I'm going to give him a fair chance,'' Meeks said. ``He seems like a really good guy and I'm really looking forward to being under his coaching.''
The 5-foot-9 Downey has excelled at every level despite often being the smallest man on the court. Downey averaged 19.8 points and 4.5 assists, ranking third in the SEC in both categories. He led the league with 2.9 steals a game.
Underclassmen have until June 15 to remove their names from the draft.
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Posted: 4/8/09 2:30AM ET