When Wright State head coach Billy Donlon watched his senior guard Kendall Griffin fall to the ground in the second half in Wednesday’s game at Oakland, Donlon did not need a doctor to tell him what just happened.
Griffin, a victim of four prior concussions since the start of the 2013-14 season, just took his final blow to the head as a college basketball player. Griffin sustained his fifth concussion in less than 18 months causing the senior to halt his basketball career with over a month remaining in his senior season.
Donlon made the official announcement from WSU’s practice facility Friday afternoon.
“It was a very emotional time in our locker room after the game,” Donlon said.
Griffin, who was said to be experiencing severe pain on way back from Oakland, was in good spirits despite the injury according to Donlon.
“Under the circumstances, (his spirits) are as good as they can be,” Donlon said. “He is a mature young man. When he came back, he knew one more and it was over. He came back and came to grips with, there is a good possibility (of sustaining another concussion) because of the way he plays.”
After missing the final 10 games of last season with his third concussion of the year, Griffin was poised to lead the Raiders back to the Horizon League title game. In the first half of the season opener against Belmont on Nov. 14, Griffin took another blow to the head, which gave him his fourth concussion.
After missing 14 games, he returned only to leave early on Jan. 20 against Milwaukee because of fears of a concussion. It turns out the hit was not concussive and he was cleared to play in the Raiders’ next game, which was against Detroit last Monday.
Versus Detroit, Griffin gave arguably the best performance of his career. He scored a career-high 20 points and held one of the league’s best scorers, Juwan Howard Jr., to just four points.
“I am just a realest, when it is over, it is over,” Griffin said after Monday’s win. “It has been my passion for my whole life. I know it has to end sometime.”
Little did anyone know that his career would end less than 48 hours after that statement.
In the second half of Wright State’s game against Oakland, he was hit in the head by a Milwaukee defender while going up for a layup. Griffin instantly fell to the floor with trainers and coaches rushing to his side.
“It is just heartbreaking because he doesn’t get another year,” Donlon said. “It is a heartbreaking thing for him because he exemplifies what it is to be a student athlete. He is in one of the toughest majors in the country. He has an unbelievable GPA. He does stuff in the community.
“No player in their senior year deserves to be hurt. But Kendall is the last guy that deserves to have that happen. I feel bad for him and his family, I don’t feel bad for us.”
In his eight games played for WSU this season, Griffin is averaging 8.4 points a game go with nine blocks and eight steals this year. Donlon said had Griffin been able to play the entire season, he likely would have been considered as an All Horizon League selection.
Instead, the next time Griffin hits the court is as a lawyer. After he graduates with a degree in bio-medical engineering in May, Griffin plans to enroll in IUPUI’s law school.