When Mike Hopkins left Syracuse to take the reins at Washington a few weeks ago, the most glaring hole that opened on the Orange’s staff was head-coach-in-waiting. With the man who had been expected to replace Jim Boeheim for more than a decade now on the other side of the country, who would take over for the legend when he finally retires in the (most likely) near future?
The more immediate position that needed to be filled, though, was the one Hopkins vacated: assistant coach. Longtime assistant Adrian Autry replaced Hopkins as associate head coach, and Gerry McNamara isn’t going anywhere, but Boeheim’s staff was still missing one member.
Not anymore. Today, Syracuse officially announced the hiring of Allen Griffin as the team’s third assistant coach, confirming news that had been reported throughout the week. Griffin meets what must be a qualification for SU assistants: he played under Boeheim at SU, just like Hopkins, Autry, and McNamara did.
Griffin occupied the Orange’s backcourt from 1997-2001, as a shooting guard for the first two years and a point guard for the second two. He arrived on campus after earning All-America honors at Paul Robeson High School in New York and appeared in 133-of-134 games during his four SU seasons. As a senior, Griffin averaged 10.8 points, 6.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.9 steals.
After graduating, Griffin spent one season playing professionally in Slovenia before returning to Central New York to teach and coach at Christian Brothers Academy for a year. After two years as SU’s director of basketball operations, Griffin got his first taste of coaching at the collegiate level. Griffin spent time at St. Francis, Providence, and Hofstra before landing at Dayton, where he spent six years on Archie Miller’s staff (good luck replacing everyone next year, Flyers).
“I can’t express how excited I am to be back at Syracuse,” Griffin said. “It was a real honor to play for a Hall of Fame coach in Coach Boeheim and I feel the same way about being a member of his staff. I’ve enjoyed the places and people I’ve worked with in the past but I’ve always hoped I’d get the opportunity to come back.”
According to SU’s official press release, Griffin will work mostly with centers, just as Hopkins did. During his previous coaching stops, Griffin has mentored every position group (guards, forwards, and centers).
It sounds like Griffin will help fill Hopkins’ shoes on the recruiting trail, as well. When the news became public, Boeheim tweeted, “We’ve hired a great coach who is a national recruiter with a lot of experience. Welcome back Allen!”
But the most exciting tweet about Griffin’s recruiting chops came from a guy who Syracuse’s new assistant could be chasing in the future. Antwaan Jones, a 5-star guard from Orlando, tweeted his apparent approval of the hire.
— Antwann Jones (@j5_twann) April 6, 2017
A signature from Jones would be a phenomenal first impression for Griffin to make on Orange Nation. Hopkins was known for his recruiting prowess; here’s hoping Griffin is a worthy successor.