Eric Griffin inks summer league deal with Los Angeles Lakers

Eric Griffin (photo by Bennett Scarborough)
Eric Griffin (photo by Bennett Scarborough)

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. – Former Campbell University standout Eric Griffin has signed a free agent deal to become a member of the Los Angeles Lakers summer league team.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for Eric," said Campbell head coach Robbie Laing. "I think most of the country knows about his freakish athletic ability, which is what catches everyone's eye. This will be a situation that allows him to show abilities in other areas, proving that he can dribble, shoot, pass and defend at that level. He'll have the perfect venue to prove his value, not only to the Lakers, but other members of the league as well."

A forward from Orlando, Fla., Griffin was named a first-team All-Big South Conference and NABC District 3 performer.  He averaged 16.8 points and 8.6 rebounds during his senior year for the Camels with a .610 field goal percentage.  He ranked sixth in the nation in shooting and set a single-season school-record with 73 blocks.  His .559 career field goal pct. is also a new school record.

"The fact that Eric is involved with the NBA Summer League helps legitimize our program to our current and future student-athletes," said Laing. "We've come a long way in improving our talent level, and I think Eric is the first of a line of guys that will play at a higher level, and that includes some guys in our program right now. It just shows that you don't have to sign with a BCS school or one of the big guys on Tobacco Road to make it to the next level."

Griffin was also named the Big South player of the year and joined teammate Darren White on the Madness Big South first-team. also chose Griffin to its 5-man Big South all-conference unit, and he earned North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association (NCCSIA) University Division All-State Men's Basketball Team honors.

"Eric has come a long way in two years," added Laing. "The fact that he's played so little basketball and has come this far is a testament to his work ethic. We're proud of him and Camel Nation will all be pulling for him."

In only two varsity seasons, Griffin finished third on Campbell's career blocked shots (134) list.  He produced 17 career double-doubles, including 12 as a senior.  In addition, he was a semifinalist in both the ESPN Dunks of the Year competition and State Farm Dark Horse Dunker race.

He recorded five of the top seven blocked shots performances by a Big South player this year, including career-high six rejections at Iowa, where he scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in Campbell's 77-61 win over the Hawkeyes. He topped all Big South players with seven games of 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds and set a school senior class (Division I era) record for rebounds (268).

He also earned a place on the Dale Howard Classic all-tournament team after he averaged 23.3 points, 12.2 rebounds and shot 75 percent from the field in four games.  At Iowa, he shot 10-of-11 from the field.  Two nights later, he hit career highs of 29 points and 14 rebounds in a loss at 25th-ranked Creighton.

Griffin was one of 64 seniors nationwide chosen to participate in the 2012 Portsmouth Invitational, the annual showcase of the country's top graduating players.  He averaged 11.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks over 3 games against the likes of Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh), Matt Gatens (Iowa), Kim English (Missouri) and Garrett Stutz (Wichita State).

If he makes the Lakers' regular season roster, Griffin would not be the first NBA player from Campbell. George Lehmann, who played for Campbell College (then a two-year institution) during the 1959-60 season, played professionally in the NBA and ABA from 1967-74 as a member of the St. Louis/Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Stars, New York Nets, Miami Floridians, Carolina Cougars, Memphis Pros, and Memphis Tams.

Lehmann averaged 11.9 points per game and 4.5 assists per game in his professional career and holds the ABA's third best career three-point field goal percentage (.365). Lehmann was the first professional basketball player to make more than 40 percent of his three point attempts in a season, which he did in 1970-71 

The only Camel ever to be selected in the NBA Draft is Clarence Grier. Grier, a four-year letter winner who was named Big South Conference player of the year in 1987, was taken 151st overall in the seventh round of the 1987 Draft by the Houston Rockets.

The 2012 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas will feature a record 24 teams competing in a 60-game schedule July 13-22 at the Thomas & Mack Center and the COX Pavilion on the campus of the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

NBA TV will televise all 60 games, including 39 live from both the Thomas & Mack Center and COX Pavilion.

Los Angeles Lakers 2012 NBA Summer League Game Schedule:

All Times listed are EASTERN

Friday July 13
COX Pavilion
8 PM – Golden State vs. LA Lakers

Saturday July 14
COX Pavilion
8 PM – LA Lakers vs. Sacramento

Monday July 16
Thomas & Mack Center
8:30 PM – LA Lakers vs. Miami

Tuesday July 17
Thomas & Mack Center
6:30 PM – San Antonio vs. LA Lakers

Thursday July 19
Thomas & Mack Center
8:30 PM – LA Clippers vs. LA Lakers