Justin Briggs, the 6-foot-10 senior center of the men’s basketball team, broke Chico State’s all-time block record with 154 total blocks.
Briggs went out with a bang, heading into his last few months of being a Wildcat. However, he has no plans of ending his basketball journey anytime soon. Being the diligent and well-prepared young man he is, Briggs has long term goals planted in the back of his mind. His dreams of making a career out of the game he loves have helped him get where he is now and become a record-holder.
“I’ve loved the game since I was young,” Briggs said. “Being able to play as long as I can is one of my passions … that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Once he graduates, Briggs plans on moving back to his hometown of Sacramento. There, he’ll hire an agent and train hard to stay in top shape. He plans on going to various exposure camps while having his agent reach out to professional teams who may have a spot for an athlete like him. Briggs wants to head into this phase of his life with an open mind. He has mentioned an interest in playing overseas, which he said with a lighthearted demeanor “would be fun.”
Chico State men’s basketball head coach Greg Clink has seen Briggs go from redshirting his first season to becoming a polished and feared post-presence for his squad. Clink believes that professional teams will be very interested in acquiring Briggs due to his size and athleticism.
“He moves so well for a guy his size,” Clink said. “He’s probably our fastest guy on the team.”
Briggs has made a name for himself during his time at Chico State as an elite shot blocker. He broke the single season block record, with 66 his freshman year, and he now holds the school’s all-time record.
While Briggs’ paint protection abilities may stand out the most, he’s a multi-faceted player. This year, he not only led the team in blocks, but also rebounds. He shot an efficient 60% from the field and averaged 12 points per game — the third-best on this year’s highly talented team.
“He’s just got a great knack for it (blocking shots),” assistant coach Mark Darnall said. “He’s got a great understanding of different moves guys have to get to the basket.”
Coach Darnall also expressed how much of a pleasure it was being able to see Briggs come into his own as a player and a leader. Darnall explained how funny of a guy Briggs is to be around and how his vibrant personality makes him a great “glue-guy” for the team.
“He’s such a big piece of our team as far as our voice, our culture and our camaraderie,” Darnall said.
Briggs’ college basketball career wasn’t always smooth sailing. His success this year is a testament to his work ethic and competitive drive, as he is coming off a season cut short due to a serious injury. After playing just 13 games last year, Briggs suffered a torn ACL and MCL. This type of injury, especially the ACL, is notorious for keeping athletes out for extended periods of time and even preventing them from being elite after they recover. This doesn’t seem to be the case for Briggs, as he got back on the court just eight months after his surgery and is now approaching the one year mark since the injury.
Torn ligaments have proven to be no match for Briggs’ drive to play basketball.
“Now that I’m getting close to my one year mark, I’m starting to feel like I’m close to picking up where I left off,” Briggs said.
Since elementary school, he’s always held a love for the game. He has had the size and skills to excel at every level. He began to drastically improve in high school and started getting recruited during his junior year. Among the schools eager to add this talent to their roster, Chico State triumphed.
“It’s crazy playing college basketball and being able to break records … I’m just enjoying the process so far,” Briggs said.
Briggs feels like he made the right choice between schools, as he has excelled on and off the court at Chico State. He’s a stellar student, majoring in business management with a minor in marketing. He loves to learn and is curious by nature.
“Great guy to coach, great student,” coach Clink said. “He really optimizes what it means to be a student-athlete.”
Briggs’ infatuation to be challenged has proven to be a great asset for him. He started his academic career at Chico State solely as a business management major and picked up the marketing minor after taking just one marketing class, which he loved. While his current career focus is on basketball, his business education will be there for him to pursue. Committing to his studies and being an elite athlete adds a lot to his plate, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I need to stay busy,” Briggs said. “I’m one of those guys that needs to be doing something and needs to keep my mind going.”
Briggs’ college experience at Chico State has been a tremendous success, as the record book reflects. He looks forward to whatever is in store and looks to take with him the same passion and diligence he cultivated in the small town of Chico. He reminisces on his time spent here as a Wildcat.
“(Chico has) been my home for the past few years,” Briggs said. “I love being here. I love the community, the coaches, my teammates, just the people in general and this town.”