Alan Griffin Announces Intention To Transfer Away From Illinois

Matthew Stevens

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The Illinois basketball program is losing its best outside shooter from this past season.

After two seasons, Alan Griffin has announced his intention to transfer away from the University of Illinois men’s basketball program. Griffin made the announcement in a message on Twitter Tuesday evening without getting into details of why he was making his move into the transfer portal.

Griffin, a 6-foot-5 wing from Ossining, N.Y., was easily the most reliable three-point shooting options on the Illini during the 2019-20 campaign as the son of former NBA veteran Adrian Griffin knocked down 41.6 percent from beyond the arc. Unless he receives a waiver from the NCAA, Griffin, who averaged 8.9 points per game and 4.5 rebounds in just 18 minutes per contest, will have two years of eligibility remaining for any Division 1 program after he sits out the 2020-21 season.

Adrian Griffin leads this basketball family as he’s still currently lead assistant coach with the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors. Alan’s sister, Aubrey, is on the basketball team under Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma at Connecticut and brother, Adrian Jr. (referred to as A.J.), is a five-star 2021 wing player who is committed to Duke.

“Illini nation, I first want to start off by saying thank you and welcoming me with open arms and supporting me through the years," Griffin said in his statement released to social media. "I also want to thank the university, my teammates, the coaching staff, and all of the staff. After careful thought and consideration, I have decided to enter my name in the transfer portal. I wish all of the upcoming and current players and the coaching staff best of luck next season. Please respect my decision.”

For a team that was near the bottom of the Big Ten Conference all season in perimeter shooting, Griffin’s value was hightended as the only member of the Illini regular rotation to shoot over 31 percent on three-point shots this past season. Griffin’s highlight moment of the 2019-20 season was in front of a mostly orange and blue crowd at Welsh-Ryan Arena as Illinois defeated Northwestern 74-66 on Feb. 27. At one point late in the second half of that game, Griffin had missed only one of his 10 field goal attempts and the reserve guard had everybody thinking his shot was about to go in every time he touched the ball. Griffin finished with a career-high 24 points off the Illini bench and was 6 of 8 from beyond the three-point arc.

“I expected that (from Griffin) for a while now (because) I played against him in high school and I always try to tell him to be the kind of player I know you are, be the kind of shooter we all know you are," Illinois freshman center Kofi Cockburn said after the win at Northwestern. "He shot the ball tremendously in high school to see him have the same kind of success here is a good feeling."

Griffin also had on-court discipline issues this past season as he was ejected from two games (vs. Missouri and at Purdue) and was suspended two further games by the Big Ten Conference for his intentional actions against Purdue guard Sasha Stefanovic in the Illini victory in West Lafayette. 

Despite leading Stepinac High School to its first state championship and being a valuable shooter on the New York Renaissance EYBL U-17 summer basketball team, which also featured Cockburn as the center, Griffin was overlooked during the recruiting process. Despite only having scholarship offers from local low-major to mid-major programs such as Iona, Fordham, La Salle and Manhattan, Illinois head coach Brad Underwood offered Griffin in late Feb. 2018 and he committed to the Illini just a week later.

“I think he thinks score a lot," Underwood said after the Northwestern game. "I think the problem at different times with him has been consistency on the other end. There’s starting to be tremendous trust. We’ve always known he can do that, and we’ve seen it at various times. Alan is becoming a really, really good college, Big Ten basketball player."

With the world still very much in flux regarding the coronavirus epidemic, Griffin could potentially still withdraw his name from the transfer portal and enroll at Illinois for his junior year with National Letter-of-Intent documents for all sports being halted until at least the middle of next month.

However, once Griffin files the paperwork to void his scholarship, Illinois is allowed to sign a player to fill his spot and several reports have surfaced Underwood is actively searching the transfer and graduate transfer market for skilled wing players. According to an online report, Griffin had informed the Illini coaching staff of his decision and has already heard interest from Power 5 Conference programs such as Duke, Maryland, Texas Tech, Dayton, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Georgia, Colorado State and Nebraska.