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COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Blake Griffin wins Wooden Award

The Oklahoma sophomore forward took the top honor for men's basketball, and Connecticut's Maya Moore won the award for the women.

April 11, 2009|Mark Medina

After Oklahoma sophomore forward Blake Griffin accepted the John R. Wooden Award, he was asked to reflect on what was going on in his mind.

He could think only of the salmon that awaited him following the ceremony.

"I'm hungry," he said to an amused gathering at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. The attendees included Legends of Coaching recipient and Texas Coach Rick Barnes, Oklahoma Coach Jeff Capel, Pittsburgh Coach Jamie Dixon, Connecticut forward and Wooden Award winner Maya Moore, and Oklahoma center Courtney Paris.

Griffin's answer also defined his on-court approach that resulted in a nation-leading 30 double-doubles and Associated Press College Basketball Player of the Year and Naismith Award honors.

Before and after he officially declared for the NBA draft on Tuesday, mock drafts considered him the consensus No. 1 pick. But Griffin says he's not assuming anything until he hears his name on June 25.

"My mind-set right now is I'm not sure where I'm going and to work like I'm not even in the draft," he said. "That's the way I've always done it. I try to block out things people say and things that can hurt you because I don't want to become complacent and not work hard and not be ready."

Griffin said he also hasn't had time to think of his draft stock, describing this last week as "crazy." He was in Detroit for the Final Four and national title game. He announced Tuesday that he was going pro. Griffin also said he signed with Excel Sports Management and will be working with Jeff Schwartz and Sam Goldfeder.

Dixon said he gave similar advice to sophomore forward DeJuan Blair, a finalist who announced Wednesday he'll declare for the draft. Blair missed the ceremony, citing an "unavoidable family commitment" while North Carolina forward Tyler Hansbrough, another finalist, didn't attend for unspecified reasons.

"The one thing I stressed to him was how much things can change with these workouts," Dixon said.

As for Griffin, Capel expects him to be a "high draft pick." But Griffin isn't thinking about that. He's too hungry.

"I don't think he's focusing on the draft," Capel said. "I think he's focusing on working and getting better. That's who he is, and that's who he's always been. That's why I think he'll be even better at that level."

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mark.medina@latimes.com

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