New OU Performance Center To Be Named After Blake Griffin
LOS ANGELES – Almost a year after watching his No. 23 college jersey elevate into the rafters at the University of Oklahoma, Clippers forward Blake Griffin found out his name will also live on at his alma mater.
A donation from Griffin this past August, the largest financial gift ever given to OU from a former Sooner basketball player, allowed for the creation of a new performance center. The school announced this week that new center will be named after Griffin.
“You always hear the word ‘legacy,’” Griffin said Thursday at the Clippers’ practice facility. “It’s just cool to try to leave behind something or improve something from how you left it. That was what was most important to me, but the name was a huge honor and I appreciated that.”
The Blake Griffin Performance Center will start construction next month, with the total cost of the project approximated at $7 million, according to a release from OU athletics.
Griffin said he spoke with teammate Jamal Crawford before Thursday’s practice about the sacrifices and donations other people made to programs that mattered to them when they were growing up.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without that,” Griffin said. “It’s something that you can give, and then it’s up to the kids and to people how they want to use it.
“College was such a pivotal time for me. It’s a time when you have so much growth and you kind of can choose one of many different paths. Having a facility and a gym I could go to every day, having a nice weight room, locker room, training room, all those things I had when I was at Oklahoma I know helped get me to where I’m at today.”
When it comes to choosing a college for a young athlete, every edge matters. Modern practice facilities help with recruiting, and once young athletes get to the school, it’s essential they have the space and the resources to work out to the best of their ability.
Two years ago, Griffin said he started conversations with OU athletics director Joe Castiglione about the possibilities of a new facility.
“For one, we needed it,” Griffin said. “I think our old weight room and practice facility were (constructed) maybe 15 years ago. They still seemed nice, but the way basketball is moving in the college world, it’s state of the art facilities everywhere. You have to keep up with all that.”
He talked to Castiglione about his likes and dislikes in a practice facility, giving his input into what he thought the new OU performance center should look like. Recently, the weight room at the Clippers’ facility received an overhaul, giving the Clippers more space to operate and move.
That open space is something he wanted in the Sooners’ new facility.
“One of the things is a big, functional area – an area that can go past 10 years,” Griffin said. “I think it’s going to be a little bit more open plan, not necessarily like a standard college weight room with the racks and all that. I think it’ll be something where you can implement a lot more technology.”
The Blake Griffin Performance Center will likely take a year to complete and will be used by both the men’s and women’s programs. Griffin plans to stay involved, and he’ll return to see the finished product.
“I go back almost every summer,” Griffin said. “Hopefully it’s a place where – now with Buddy (Hield) in the league and the OU program continuing to rise – guys will come back. Whether you’re playing overseas or playing NBA basketball, even if it’s just some point for a week here or there, we can get everybody back and have a week like that to train the younger guys.”