Fall 2022

Duke freshman AJ Griffin declares for NBA draft as he finds his worth in Christ alone

Duke freshman AJ Griffin made it official Sunday when he announced he would enter his name in June’s NBA draft, becoming the fifth Blue Devil to declare in the past week. He intends to hire an agent.

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Griffin, a 6-foot-6 small forward, was an honorable mention All-ACC selection and a member of the ACC All-Rookie team in his only season in Durham. The Ossining, New York, native played in all 39 of Duke’s games this season (starting the last 25 after a sprained knee in October slowed his development). He averaged 10.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game while shooting 44.7% from 3-point range — the fifth best in school history.

“I know a lot of kids grow up dreaming they could wear that Duke uniform and play in Cameron Indoor Stadium,” Griffin said in Sunday’s press release. “I was one of those kids growing up, and I am so grateful I had that opportunity.

“As I declare for the 2022 NBA Draft, I am filled with gratitude. It was an honor to play for Duke and represent The Brotherhood. It was a dream come true. My experiences have helped prepare me for this moment and I am proud to know I will be a Blue Devil for life.”

Legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who retired after Duke’s Final Four run this season, believes Griffin will add a lot to an NBA team on the court and in the locker room.

“AJ was one of best shooters in the nation and his skillset is exactly what NBA teams are looking for,” Krzyzewski said in the release. “He is a remarkable young man that comes from a beautiful family and we’re certainly going to miss them. AJ showed up every day with a smile on his face and his positive energy was infectious. We appreciate everything that he did for our program and know that great things will happen for him.”

As Griffin joins fellow Blue Devils Mark Williams, Paolo Banchero, Wendell Moore Jr. and Trevor Keels in preparing for the draft, he will seek to remain grounded in his strong faith in Christ.

According to Krzyzewski, Griffin is a leader in his faith, and that had a positive impact on last season’s Blue Devils.

“What AJ has brought to our program is a great belief in God,” Krzyzewski said last month. “Because of him, the team has started a Bible study, and it’s because of him. He asked the guys to do it. He’s not nervous, he has it together more than most of us and I’m proud of him for it.”

Griffin’s Twitter account is full of references to Jesus, Bible verses and personal testimonies about what God has done in his life. He also often posts messages on his TikTok account after reading the Bible.

@ajgriffin_21

Don’t be discouraged! Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong🙏🏾 #fyp #christiantiktok #holyspiritfilled

♬ Steven Universe – L.Dre

“I feel like everyone needs a relationship with God,” he told 247 Sports in February. “For me, I believe in Jesus Christ and what He’s done in my life; I want that to happen to others too. I was in a bad place when I was going through injuries (in his last two years of high school), and He’s the one that helped me through it. He’s the one that got me out of that situation and really made me a better person.”

The draft process Griffin is about to embark on is often all about evaluating a player’s worth, but Griffin knows his true worth is always found in what his Heavenly Father declares of him.

The 2022 NBA Draft will be held on June 23 from Brooklyn, New York, and the CBS Sports mock draft released last week projects Griffin will be selected ninth overall by the San Antonio Spurs.

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