One of the catalysts of some of Bucknell’s all-time greatest men’s basketball teams is returning home. John Griffin III, a 2008 Bucknell graduate, has been selected as the 22nd head coach of the Bison men’s basketball program, director of athletics and recreation Jermaine Truax announced today.
Griffin, who has spent the last four seasons as associate head coach at Saint Joseph’s University, was a key part of some of Bucknell’s very best teams in his two previous stints in Lewisburg, comprising four years as a student-athlete and four more as an assistant coach. In those eight seasons, Bucknell compiled a 174-87 (.667) overall record and a 102-26 (.797) mark in Patriot League games. Griffin helped lead Bucknell to four NCAA Tournament appearances, two as a player (2005, 2006) and two as an assistant coach (2017, 2018).
Griffin comes from a deep-rooted basketball family. He is now a second-generation head coach following in the footsteps of his father, John Griffin II, who was head coach at Siena from 1982-86 and at Saint Joseph’s from 1990-95. Griffin’s younger brother, Matt, played basketball at Rider and Boston University and is now an assistant coach at Florida Gulf Coast.
“John Griffin is a rising star in the college basketball coaching ranks, and I am tremendously excited to welcome him back to Bucknell as our next head coach,” said Truax. “As the son of a coach, John has always had a bright mind for the game of basketball, which was on full display during his playing days at Bucknell and now as a coach. John’s energy and passion and his engaging personality has translated to success both as a recruiter and as a leader of high-level student-athletes on and off the court.”
“I am honored and excited for the chance to lead the men’s basketball program at Bucknell University,” said Griffin. “As an alum, the success of Bucknell Athletics resonates with me on a deep level, and I look forward to bringing the Patriot League championship back to Sojka Pavilion. I am humbled to represent the Bucknell campus and Lewisburg community with a competitive spirit of pride and passion. I especially would like to thank President John Bravman, athletic director Jermaine Truax, and deputy athletic director Tim Pavlechko for entrusting me with this opportunity.”
Griffin scored 1,084 points during an outstanding four-year playing career at Bucknell. As a senior, he captained the team and earned First Team All-Patriot League honors after averaging 13.1 points per game. Griffin ranks third on Bucknell’s career list for 3-point field goals with 220, and his 127 games played was a school record at the time.
During his first two seasons, he was a key reserve on Bison squads that defeated Kansas and Arkansas in the first round of the 2005 and 2006 NCAA Tournaments. The Kansas win was momentous, as it was the first NCAA Tournament victory in Bucknell and Patriot League history. The 2005-06 squad is considered to be the best-ever at Bucknell, as the Bison finished 27-5 overall (14-0 in the Patriot League), earned a top-25 national ranking for the first time, and received a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
During his four-year playing career, Bucknell compiled an overall record of 85-42 (.669) and a Patriot League record of 44-12 (.786).
After graduating from Bucknell with a degree in economics in 2008, Griffin played professionally in Germany, Slovakia, England, and Italy. He was the Player of the Year in the German Pro B division with Crailsheim in 2008-09, but his career was ultimately set back by a torn ACL.
In 2010-11, Griffin worked with the Indiana Pacers as a video coordinator. In addition to his video responsibilities, he participated in team practices and pregame warmups and conducted statistical analysis to help the coaching staff prepare scouting reports.
After playing his final pro season in Italy in 2011-12, Griffin was hired as the director of basketball operations at Rider in June 2012. He was promoted to assistant coach in 2013 and had been in that position for two seasons before returning to Bucknell. In his final season at Rider, the Broncs finished 21-12 overall, 15-5 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, and played in the CBI postseason tournament.
Griffin came back to his alma mater in April 2015, and in four seasons as an assistant coach he helped the Bison to four Patriot League regular-season titles, two Patriot League Tournament titles, two NCAA Tournament appearances, and one NIT bid.
Griffin, who led Saint Joseph’s Prep to a Philadelphia Catholic League championship and graduated as the school’s all-time leading scorer during his high school days, was named associate head coach at Saint Joseph’s University, his father’s alma mater, in April 2019.
Working under head coach Billy Lange, the Hawks improved every year during Griffin’s tenure. In three full seasons (not counting the COVID-abbreviated 2020-21 campaign), Saint Joseph’s improved its win total from six to 11 to 16. The 2022-23 team went 8-10 in the competitive Atlantic 10 and won two games in the A10 Tournament before bowing out in a close contest to second-seeded Dayton.
“I was extremely happy with the high-quality pool of candidates in this search, which is a meaningful indicator that Bucknell men’s basketball is still very much viewed as one of the top mid-major programs in the country, and John is uniquely positioned to bring Bucknell back to prominence,” said Truax.
Griffin is married to the former Brianna Gauthier, who was a women’s basketball student-athlete at Mount St. Mary’s and later served as an assistant coach at Manhattan. The Griffins have three young sons, John Joseph IV, Charles, and Landon.