“It was a little, small hitch, but it was just enough that at the next level he wouldn’t have been able to get that shot off consistently,” Taylor said. “I told him he was at a crossroads. ‘Do you want to have a good shot or a great shot?’ ”
The hard work yielded almost immediate results. By the time Magruder convened for summer league just a few months after his freshman season, Harwood saw a physically stronger Griffin shooting with newfound confidence.
Playing for a program that emphasizes outside shooting, Griffin made 49 three-pointers his sophomore season and picked up the first of his 10 Division I scholarship offers the following summer.
As a junior, Griffin knocked down 91 shots from outside the arc — compared with 70 two-point field goals — and averaged a team-best 17 points per game as the Colonels went 26-1 en route to the Maryland 4A title. In August, he picked GW over Drexel and William & Mary.
“If you give him a blink of an eye, the shot’s off and you’re in trouble,” said Springbrook Coach Tom Crowell, whose team handed the Colonels their only loss, 59-55 in overtime, on Dec. 19. “When we play Magruder, our defense is always set around where he is.”
Griffin will need to continue to round out his game to make an impact at the next level. Lonergan said the guard must improve his defense and ball-handling, but the coach believes he’ll be an asset right away to a team that currently ranks last in the Atlantic 10 in three-pointers made.
“He’s a gym rat,” Lonergan said, “and we thought if he had that work ethic and commitment he would keep getting better as he gets older.”
Before he heads to Foggy Bottom, Griffin has his eyes on a repeat state title. He’s averaged 18.2 points per game so far, including a 16-point effort in a 69-65 win over private school power DeMatha on Dec. 6.
That victory in a crowded home gym avenged Magruder’s lone loss from last season. After so many lonely hours on the court, Griffin has found it easier to relish the pressure-packed moments.
“When you’re locked in, you’re just focused,” Griffin said. “You don’t worry about anything. There might be a hand in the face, but all you see is yourself and the basket.”