Duke lands junior forward A.J. Griffin of Archbishop Stepinac | Zagsblog
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Wednesday / February 28.
  • Duke lands junior forward A.J. Griffin of Archbishop Stepinac

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    Duke landed one of the top juniors in the nation on Monday when A.J. Griffin of White Plains (N.Y.) Archbishop Stepinac and the PSA Cardinals AAU program announced his commitment to the Blue Devils.

    “Go Blue Devils,” Griffin said in this video.

    Griffin is the second Stepinac player to commit to an ACC blue blood this fall after 6-foot senior point guard R.J. Davis committed to North Carolina last month.

    “We are beyond excited for A.J. and his decision to attend Duke,” Stepinac coach Pat Massaroni said. “He felt the connection with the staff and the players and the message Coach K has presented to him.

    “A.J. has so much versatility in his game. His ability to shoot, defend, rebound and get others involved. He has worked extremely hard on and off the court. He is a top player in the 2021 class.”

    Griffin is also the sixth member of the PSA Cardinals to commit Division 1 this year.

    Said Terrance “Munch” Williams of the PSA Cardinals: “A.J. Griffin is one of the most complete players in the country. With his great family structure and support system, I can see him playing basketball at the highest level one day. As long as he continues to be healthy, I believe he will end up being the No. 1 player in his class.”

    The 6-foot-7 Griffin recently took an official visit to Duke for “Countdown to Craziness.”

    “The Duke visit was great,” Griffin said by text. “I connected really good with everyone and [the] atmosphere of the Countdown to Craziness was unbelievable.”

    Griffin, who is the son of Toronto Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, was part of a busy weekend at Duke that also included 2020 big man Hunter Dickinson and 2021 big man Paolo Banchero.

    Griffin is ranked the No. 8 player in the Class of 2021 per 247Sports.com and the No. 3 small forward. He’s projected as a Top 10 pick in at least one 2022 NBA mock draft.

    Kentucky and Villanova appeared to be his other main suitors. Kentucky just offered him on Oct. 10 and John Calipari had seen him twice this fall, while Villanova had also been in twice, once with head coach Jay Wright. He also held offers from Kansas, Michigan and Vanderbilt, among others.

    Duke coach Mike Krzyzewkski was in attendance with Jon Scheyer and Nate James for Griffin on Sept. 9.

    “I talked to him over the phone,” Griffin said then of Coach K. “He said, ‘I’m excited to recruit you, I see a lot of potential in you.'”

    Griffin missed some time last season with a foot injury, but came back to help the USA Basketball U16 win a gold medal at the FIBA Americas Men’s U16 Championship in Brazil in June. He suffered a strained back when he dove for a ball in the gold-medal game against Canada, and then missed Peach Jam with the PSA Cardinals.

    “I definitely feel stronger and more confident in my game,” he said last month. “I added some better attributes to my game. I’m more of a vocal leader. My body is great.”

    Junior big man Malcolm Chimezie practices against Griffin every day.

    “The kid is a beast,” he said. “He can go anywhere. He’s strong, he’s relentless, he can shoot it, he has good size. He’s definitely an NBA player.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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