West addresses guard play in first recruit of 2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 19, 2006

LORMAN &8212; The third stop out of high school turned out to be the best for Richard Griffin.

His fourth, he hopes, may be even better.

The Holmes Community College standout signed with Alcorn State basketball last week as the Braves&8217; first signee of the recruiting season. The former Callaway standout will land at Alcorn after initially signing with Mississippi Valley and later landing at Hinds Community College before arriving at Holmes.

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At 6-1, Griffin will play either the point or shooting guard for the Braves.

&8220;I think he&8217;ll fit in fine,&8221; Alcorn head coach Samuel West said. &8220;He doesn&8217;t turn the ball over. We averaged over 20 turnovers a game, and we can rectify that situation. He plays hard all the time. That can help us out tremendously.&8221;

The Braves could use the relief on the perimeter after a season where their turnover total exceeded 500 for the third straight year. Leading scorer and All-SWAC shooter Delvin Thompson was by far the worst in that category with 111, and point guard Alleo Frazier was second on the team with 65.

Frazier also finished with 111 assists, but the team had just 337 to 512 turnovers &8212; an assist-turnover margin of minus-3.75. Griffin can help out in either position after he was forced to play point at Holmes due to injuries.

He averaged 18 points, six assists and seven rebounds a game.

&8220;He was a great player for us,&8221; said Holmes head coach Todd Kimble, who played at Delta State when West was there as an assistant. &8220;We had to play him too many minutes. We lost two point guards, and it probably took a little of his scoring away. He&8217;s a tremendous, tremendous shooter, a great student and a great person. As the year went on, his assist-turnover ratio got to where it needs to be at 2 to 1. He got a lot better at that.&8221;

It was an adjustment for Griffin, who came out of Callaway as a shooter who could handle the ball at the point in a pinch. Then when he took over the spot for Kimble at Holmes, he tried to be a do-all by creating his own shots and getting others in position to score.

At Alcorn, he could do a little bit of both as well. The team&8217;s only senior last year was Roland Parsons, who did not play.

&8220;Coach West is a very positive coach,&8221; Griffin said. &8220;I like the other coaches, and they&8217;ve got the whole team returning. I felt I could come and be a key component of what they&8217;re trying to do. Whatever he needs me, I feel I can help the team in both spots and be a leader.&8221;

Griffin helped Holmes win the juco state championship this past season in his first season with the Bulldogs. It was kind of by accident he fell into Kimble&8217;s lap at the Goodman school after sitting out a year while attending Hinds.

Kimble just happened to see him one day and pitched the idea to him.

&8220;I just kind of ran into him in the summer,&8221; Kimble said. &8220;I watched him during a summer workout in Jackson. I had some guys point him out to me, and I really liked him. He filled a gap we had on the team. He&8217;s a good student and a smart kid. He was looking for somewhere to go, not really politicking for a job. It&8217;s just one of those deals that worked out.&8221;

That all came after arriving at Valley after high school where he signed with the Devils and former head coach Lafayette Stribling. He left there and had hoped to latch on at Hinds until he had to get his credits straight before becoming eligible.

&8220;It didn&8217;t work out for me (at Valley) &8212; the system and a lot of stuff going on,&8221; Griffin said. &8220;I felt I wouldn&8217;t have been happy if I would have stayed for four years.

&8220;It was just a decision I made (at Hinds). I think I needed two or three more hours to be eligible to play at Hinds. I would have had to sit out the first semester, and I decided to sit out the whole year. My intention was to stay at Hinds, but the opportunity opened up at Holmes and I thought it would be a better fit.&8221;

Griffin will fill a position for West, and the coach said he&8217;s hoping to bring in two more impact players on a roster that will be senior-heavy next season. The Braves won&8217;t have forward Almaad Jackson back next year &8212; the top shot-blocker in the SWAC may need back surgery &8212; and are in the market for a big man.

They rotated players in and out of that power forward spot last season &8212; Jackson, James Kendrick, Sirdonta Washington and Jarvis Williams &8212; to play alongside center Juan Wyatt.

&8220;We&8217;ve got to get some more aggressive post players to go along with Juan,&8221; West said. &8220;We&8217;ve got Jarvis coming back, and he did a great job for us this year and will do a lot better next year.&8221;