(Kansas City, Mo.) Following a standout senior campaign, Loyola University New Orleans men’s basketball forward Johnny Griffin Jr. (SR/Chicago, IL.) was selected as a 2017 NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball All-American, as announced by the national office on Thursday afternoon.
Earning NAIA All-American Honorable Mention honors for the second-straight season, Griffin Jr. adds this accolade to his Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-SSAC awards that he received prior to this year’s conference tournament.
Griffin Jr. led Loyola with 10.0 rebounds per game and 57 steals while falling just 0.01 points short of leading the team at 14.3 points per outing.
The Chicago native ended the 2016-17 season ranking second in the SSAC with 219 rebounds and 3.78 offensive rebounds per game. He finished the year third in the league in field goal percentage (0.532) and steals while his 31 blocks were fifth-most overall.
Nationally, Griffin Jr. was No. 4 in the NAIA in both offensive rebounds per game and total rebounds this season. Overall, he wraps up his senior year ranking amongst the national leaders in nine major statistical categories.
With Johnny acting as the engine, the Wolf Pack men’s basketball squad recorded one of the most successful seasons ever in 2016-17. Head Coach Stacy Hollowell and the rest of the team kicked off the year by going 8-2, which marked the second-best start by a Loyola team in program history. The fast start bolted the Wolf Pack into the NAIA DI Coaches’ Top 25 poll for the just the second time ever and the No. 22 ranking was the highest Loyola has achieved during the modern era (since 2000).
The 2016-17 Wolf Pack became just the sixth squad in school history to reach the 20-wins plateau and the team’s 22 overall victories were the second most by a Loyola men’s team in program history.
Capping off the SSAC Tournament with a 22-9 record, the Wolf Pack looked to continue to make history as the team turned its attention to the NAIA DI National Championship – an event the Wolf Pack has not been a part of in over seven decades. Landing at No. 29 in the final national poll, Loyola managed to grab the final at-large bid in the tournament to snap the 71-year tournament drought.
Although his season might have ended with a first-round exit in the tournament, Griffin Jr. was not done hooping in Kansas City. Thanks to his supreme leaping ability that landed him on ESPN last season, Johnny was chosen to participate at the 4th Annual NABC-NAIA Shoot & Slam, presented by US Bank on March 18. Griffin Jr. wowed the judges in Kansas City with his aerial assault and left the event in second place by just two overall points.
Despite only playing two seasons for the maroon the gold, Griffin Jr. has cemented himself as one of the all-time greats in program history. His 319 rebounds this year was most in a single season by any Loyola player ever and his 606 total rebounds and 68 career blocks (in just 62 games) are both the sixth most in program history.