His entrance into the college basketball world could be compared to that of Superman’s intro: “Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.” With the dunk at the height of public appeal, Louisville’s Darrell Griffith was a spectacle to see. You see although he averaged 18.5 points per game during his four-year stay, the only thing everyone wanted to witness was an aerial display of verticality highlighted by a 48-inch vertical leap. As a 6-foot-4 guard it appeared to be surreal when Griffith took flight, however there was so much more to his overall game. Opponents who had heard so much about his extraordinary athletic ability often were surprised by Griffith’s lethal jump shot—and unsettled by their inability to stop it.
Stepping onto Louisville’s campus in 1976 as a high school sensation, Griffith was expected to turn an already Final Four caliber program into a sure-fire national champion. He was mostly a reserve during his freshman year and thought about jumping ship and taking his talents to the NBA after both his sophomore and junior seasons. However, because of erratic play at times, Griffth chose to listen to his now Hall of Fame coach Denny Crum and challenged himself to address the criticisms of his game.
One word describes Griffith’s senior year - “dominant.” He would average 23 points per game while also grabbing five rebounds and handing out four assists. His outstanding play earn him the prestigious John Wooden Award. Griffith led his Cardinals to a 33-3 record and the school’s first NCAA basketball championship. During his stretch run, he posted numbers of 25, 5, and 5 including a Four Four best 28.5 points per contest. In addition he also locked up the opposing team’s top scorer’s such as Kansas State’s Rolando Blackman, LSU’s Howard Carter, and UCLA’s Michael Holton who all struggled to even get open looks at the basket. He passed, rebounded, defended and scored. Notice I didn’t say he dunked.
But is it an issue? Maybe not for most, but had he played in today's era of YouTube and SportsCenter highlights…you already know the answer. Everyone should appreciate the overall level of play Griffith displayed. And while the legend of Dr. Dunkenstein will live on forever, Griffith was recently named to the newest class of inductees for the College Basketball Hall of Fame. It should be no surprise that he is being recognized, however it is mind boggling as to what took so long. Darrell Griffith is without question one of the 50 greatest players in the history of college basketball and is the best player to ever roam the court in Freedom Hall. It is long overdue and time to pay respect to not only a Tourney Titan, but a pure basketball legend.
Darrell Griffith Resume Bullets:
- He left Univeristy of Louisville as the school's career scoring leader (2,333 points).
- He is the first player in U of L history to surpass the 2,000 point mark.
- University of Louisville single season scoring leader with 825 points.
- Only player at Louisville to score more than 700 points in one season.
- In his four seasons with the Cardinals, he helped teams to a combined record of 101-25; two regular season Metro Conference titles; two Metro tournament championships; four straight NCAA tournament appearances; and the 1980 NCAA Championship.
- His jersey number - 35 - was retired at ceremonies following the 1980 basketball season and his road uniform is on permanent display at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.