Going Viral

Senior Eric Griffin had a monster senior year for the men’s basketball team; but his legacy will be the dunk that rattled Buies Creek

The opponent: North Carolina A&T.
The site: Buies Creek.
The play: With A&T applying a full-court press on Campbell’s inbounds pass, senior Eric Griffin receives the ball at midcourt and dribbles toward the top of the key. With a 3-on-1 in his favor, Griffin elects not to pass and instead heads straight for the hoop.

“I remember thinking he took off too far from the basket,” recalled Coach Robbie Laing. “But he just kept flying.”

Two dribbles. A flight that began just beyond the free throw line. A one-handed dunk delivered with authority over the lone, unfortunate A&T defender in the paint.

Two points.
And a foul.
The result: A YouTube sensation.

“I was shaking my head. I’d never seen anything like it,” said freshman teammate Trey Freeman.

“I turned to Assistant Coach Charles Baker and said, ‘Did we just see that?’” said Laing.

Not long after Griffin’s dunk, which he delivered Nov. 17 on his home court, a clip of his aerial feat was posted to YouTube. Before long, it garnered nearly a half-million hits and vaulted Griffin into several “Dunk of the Year” Internet polls and contests, the most high profile being the “Dunk of the Year” show which aired multiple times on ESPN2 during March Madness.

“He had a little bit of everything (in the dunk),” wrote sports writer Tony Markovich. “He had the distance, he had the ability to go over, and he had the power to finish. The combination of those three make it a Top 10 dunk without question.”

The dunk attracted producers of the ESPN2 “Dunk of the Year” show to Buies Creek to film what amounted to a five-minute feature on the senior from Orlando, Fla. In it, Griffin talked about how he was cut from several middle and high school basketball teams until a growth spurt before his senior year landed him on the high school varsity squad.

After a few years in junior college, Campbell signed Griffin to a letter of intent. It turned out to be a great signing.

In 2012, Griffin was named to the All-District 3 Division I men’s basketball team by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. He was also named the CollegeSportsMadness.com Big South Player of the Year after landing on the conference’s all-league first team a few weeks earlier.

Griffin concluded his two-year Campbell career by breaking the school single-season mark for blocked shots both years. His 73 rejections topped the 61 shots he blocked in 2010-11. He also set a school Division I era (since ’77-78) record for career field goal percentage (.559).

Griffin hopes his time in Campbell will lead to a professional basketball career. Laing is convinced Griffin can make it happen.

“We’ve barely seen who he is,” Laing said in the ESPN2 feature. “His dunk showed his freakish athletic ability, but he’s also a basketball player. He’ll be on ESPN more times (in the future).”