Making his mark on the big stage

Future Sooner Blake Griffin talks about his experience at the prestigous McDonald's All-American game and conversations with Jai Lucas. Griffin scored just four points in the game, but he left Louisville as the slam dunk champion.

BLAKE GRIFFIN , F, 6-9, OKLAHOMA CHRISTIAN SCHOOL , OKLAHOMA :

JH: Tell us about your experience at the McDonald's All-American game. What was it like?

BG: "It was overall just a fun five days that we were there. We were doing things non-stop. It was a great experience just to see all the places, meet the people, hang out with all those guys and to be able to play basketball with all of them."

JH: Can you give us an idea what your schedule was like and all the things you got to do?

BG: "Sunday we went to the Ronald McDonald House and played with all the kids there. We took a tour and kind of got to know what that program is all about. We had practice every day and after that we had autograph sessions and photo shoots. Monday, we took a tour of the Muhammad Ali Center and we also had practice that morning. Then we had another autograph session and later that night had the slam dunk and 3-point shootout. Tuesday, we had practice and we had a media day at Freedom Hall. Then we scrimmaged East vs. West. That night we had a banquet where Bill Walton spoke and coach John Wooden spoke. Wednesday, we did some gameday stuff and just went and shot around, took pictures and all that. Then we played the game."

JH: What was the Muhammad Ali Center like?

BG: "It was really cool. Just to see all the accomplishments he has had in his past. They also had all of his fights on video and a lot of his personal belongings.  We got a chance to learn a lot more about who he was as a person and all the things that he did."

JH: You also heard Bill Walton? What did you think about his speech?

BG: "I love him, and I think we all loved him. He was really funny and he just talked about how we always need to be prepared. He talked about how Coach Wooden would always tell them that he had done his part and could we do ours. That was the theme to his speech — to just motive us to know that we can never stop working and that basketball is just a stepping stone for life. That life is much bigger than basketball."

JH: What are your thoughts on winning the slam dunk contest? When you got ready to go into that competition did you think you were going to win it?

BG: "I didn't think I was going to win necessarily, but I knew I had a chance if I got all my dunks down. That is really all I tried to do — was to finish all my dunks because a lot of people were doing some crazy stuff. They were getting up, but not getting their dunks down. All I concentrated on was getting my dunks down and to do some that were somewhat difficult, but not to difficult."

JH: Which dunk really won the competition for you?

BG: "The first one of the finals was one that I got a perfect score on."

JH: How did it make you feel to play in this game as one of the best players in the country?

BG: "I felt I did pretty good. I was happy with how I performed pretty much the whole week. I would have liked to contribute a little more in the game (4 points), but we won and that is what is important. Overall, I think I did a pretty good job and accomplished some things that I wanted to do going into it."

JH: Did you come out of there more confident as a basketball player?

BG: "I definitely did."

JH: Now that have you proved you belong with the elite players in the country, aren't you even more confident that you belong on the floor with those elite players?

BG: "I would like to think that, but I still have a lot of work to do."

JH: What was the game itself like with so many guys just trying to put on a show and not playing much team basketball at all?

BG: "It was a little different than I expected. I kind of expected more fast pace and all that. It is different playing on national television because of all the TV timeouts and all that. Also, the limited playing time made it hard to get into any kind of rhythm. It was tough to get into the game because you are only in there four to five minutes at a time. So it was a little bit different, but I enjoyed the experience."

JH: Did every player feel like or wish that he got a little more playing time?

BG: "I think is pretty much how everybody felt because everybody in that game is used to playing the whole game their whole high school career. It is just kind of a chance to play in the game this way."

JH: I am sure you had a great time representing your high school, the state of Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma all at the same time?

BG: "It was a great. That was exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to just come in and represent Oklahoma, and also represent OU. I felt like I did the best that I could."

JH: I understand that you were recruiting Jai Lucas all the weekend to join you at Oklahoma ?

BG: "I have a pretty good feel right now, but it is pretty hard to tell. He keeps it pretty secretive, but I feel we are in a good position right now. It is just up to him to make a decision."

JH: What kind of feeling do you get from the other players at the game about the OU Men's Basketball program?

BG: "I think they have a great deal of respect for the program. Maybe not as much as Duke or Kansas , but I think they do. I know that all of us respect each others' choices of where we are going and where we picked to play our college ball at. I think other people realize that last year wasn't the best year, but that we are probably going to have better years in years to come."

JH: Do you plan on talking to Jai as much as you can?

BG: "Oh, definitely. That would be huge to get him. So I will be in his ear a little bit."


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