Blake Griffin and the University of Oklahoma announced Friday that the former OU standout and current NBA star committed to the largest ever gift by a former OU basketball player.
Griffin, who had his jersey retired in March, was in town last weekend for the OU alumni game, alongside former Sooner greats like Buddy Hield and coach Billy Tubbs.
Griffin’s donation will help fund the High Performance Center addition to the Lloyd Noble Center. Although neither OU nor Blake Griffin have revealed the exact amount of the donation, the HPC is reportedly expected to have a $7 million budget.
“I’m truly excited about the future of our men’s basketball program under Coach (Lon) Kruger,” Griffin said. “I want us to capitalize on the momentum of last year’s run to another Final Four. And with a facility like this, I don’t think it will be long before Coach (Sherri) Coale is making her fourth Final Four trip with the women’s program, too.”
The High Performance Center was already approved by the OU Board of Regents in 2015, but Griffin’s gift will allow the university to provide additional enhancements, including a nutrition center, indoor and outdoor turfs, and the consolidation of the strength and performance enhancement structures.
While the HPC will be constructed on the south side of the existing practice facilities of the Lloyd Noble Center, it will be available for all OU athletic programs to use.
With the departure of Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin has been surrounded by steady buzz to return to his hometown. If he was trying to quell any talk of his return, his donation certainly didn’t help. The voice of OU sports, Toby Rowland, took the opportunity to recruit him obliquely:
— Nikki Kay (@NikkiKayKFOR) August 27, 2016
Rowland’s clever pitch drew large ovations from the crowd. When asked about his impending free agency, Griffin didn’t let on much, declining to comment and opting to focus on this season:
“I’m just concentrating on this year,” Griffin said. “I’m not really thinking about that yet. It’s a long way away. My biggest goal is to be healthy and have a good season.”
Whether or not his gift signifies much about his potential homecoming–hint: it doesn’t–is less important than the fact that the Lloyd Noble Center desperately needed such renovations. A gift like this from such a high-profile name is sure to bolster Lon Kruger’s recruiting efforts, and more importantly, the Sooners’ play on the court.