After being cut by his high school basketball team during his junior year, the odds of Eric Griffin ever mounting a career in professional basketball seemed essentially nonexistent. Through determination and otherworldly work ethic however, Griffin has managed to play all over the world and he's now set his sights on one goal: the NBA.
Not being selected for his high school team could have been the end of the line, but Griffin was determined to make his basketball dream a reality. He transferred high schools and his athleticism, as well as his unparalleled work ethic made him an appealing project for college coaches in the surrounding area.
He moved on to Hiwassee Community College for his freshman year but after the school lost its accreditation he was forced to go on the move once again, this time ending up in Kentucky at Garden City Community College. On the heels of another season with strong development, Campbell transferred into the Division 1 level at Campbell University in North Carolina.
It would be his fifth school in as many years, but as Griffin tells Ridiculous Upside, these challenges only served to make him a stronger player in the end.
"My path has taken me to a lot of places, but that's no different than a lot of guys that have made it. I never stopped believing in myself even with all of the moves," Griffin said.
While he had only been organized basketball for a few years at that point, Griffin immediately showed his value on the court and made a relatively seamless transition even with the heightened level of competition. He averaged 13.2 points on 50% shooting during his first season, but bumped it all the way to 15.7 on 61% as his senior year rolled around.
"It gets more difficult at every level that you go up, but I was able to develop my game at each level that I reached so it balanced out and I was able to be pretty successful."
Although he had a successful college career and followed it up with a great showing at the Portsmouth Invitational, Griffin knew that the NBA more than likely wouldn't be calling on draft day. He was never discouraged and when 60 picks came and went without his name being called, he was already looking forward to the next step.
He didn't have to wait long, as his blend of athleticism and the production that he had at Campbell was viewed highly amongst NBA teams. He accepted an offer to play with the Los Angeles Lakers throughout the NBA Summer League, the first chance that he would have to play underneath the NBA umbrella.
While it didn't result in an NBA contract, he was able to get some valuable feedback from executives around the league. He moved on to Italy and then Puerto Rico and Spain the following year before he chose to head back to the United States after receiving a Summer League offer from the Dallas Mavericks.
He went on to sign a contract with the Mavericks, but a couple of weeks before the regular season tipped off he was one of the last players cut from the team. Undeterred, he made his way to the NBA D-League so that he was able to play in front of NBA eyes each and every night.
Right away, it appeared as if the time he had spent overseas had paid off. Though he shot just 30 three-pointers during his senior year at Campbell, Griffin displayed a well-developed outside shot, hitting nearly 37% of the 266 attempts he had beyond the arc on the season.
The forward was selected to play in the D-League All-Star Game and had momentum rolling as the summer came around. He once again played well in the Summer League and was signed by the Detroit Pistons, but yet again was let go during the final round of cuts.
Rather than play another year in the D-League, Griffin made the decision to play in Dubai this season.
"It wasn't a tough decision for me to go back overseas. When I didn't get a call-up after putting up the kind of numbers that I did in the D-League, I had to go overseas. Making the NBA is my ultimate goal, but I also have a family to think about and the D-League salary alone just doesn't cut it," he added.
Now another year more experienced and his game ready to fit in with an NBA roster, Griffin is looking forward to what this upcoming year is going to bring.
"I'm blessed to be playing the game that I love and getting paid good money for it. I just hope that I can get that opportunity to show everyone that all of the things that I did in the D-League, I'm capable of doing in the NBA," he conveyed.
Able to defend on the perimeter and use his length to block shots, Griffin has the ideal body type and skill set for the direction that the NBA is moving towards. His addition of a consistent jump shot is an added bonus and it won't be long before an NBA team decides to stick with him. Until that day comes, Griffin is going to work tirelessly to improve.
"It would mean everything to me to make it to the NBA. I genuinely believe that I have the ability to play in the league and contribute on a winning team. I don't have control over when a team will call, so the only thing I can do is continue to work hard. When I get the opportunity, I'm going in," Griffin said.
Editor's note: Shortly after speaking with Ridiculous Upside, Griffin was arrested for attempted murder. This story was written before the incident took place.