Golden Grizzlies

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Oakland Golden Grizzlies

General Team Information:

Founded: 1967

Conference: Horizon League

Past Conferences: Summit League, Mid-Continent Conference

Arena: Athletics Center O’rena

City: Auburn Hills, Michigan

Championships and Titles

3 Conference Tournament Championships

4 Conference Regular Season Championships

Team History

The Oakland Golden Grizzlies, a relatively new program, cut their teeth mainly in Division II. The men’s basketball team did not join Division I until 1997. 

While in Division II, the Golden Grizzlies were originally called the Pioneers and played independently until 1974. They joined the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) and won a few conference titles in 1996 and 1997.  

Prior to that, Oakland finished in fourth place in the Division II Tournament in 1994. In 1997, they were the runner-ups. Overall, the program had a 3-5 record in the Division II NCAA Tournament played from the 1993-94 season to the 1996-97 season under Greg Kampe. 

They then joined the Mid-Continent Conference, which became the Summit League. While initially struggling, the Golden Grizzlies quickly became competitive. The Golden Grizzlies would also become hits on the NCAAB odds as overachieving underdogs.

The 2004-05 season was a breakthrough for the team as they went on to win the Summit League tournament despite having a losing regular season record. In doing so, Oakland was selected to play in the NCAA Division I Tournament for the first time. It also defeated Alabama A&M to make into the first round though it would lose to the top seed, North Carolina.

Despite the surprising success, the Golden Grizzlies  struggled until the 2008-09 season. With players like Keith Benson leading the Golden Grizzlies’ team stats, Oakland  won 20+ games for the first time as an NCAA Division I program. It would maintain this success for a few years as it went to consecutive NCAA Tournaments albeit for just one round each. 

In 2013, Oakland moved to the Horizon League. A 2017 regular season title notwithstanding, the program has yet to make a mark in this conference. Even with the likes of Travis Bader leading the Oakland Golden Grizzlies’ team stats, Oakland has not made the NCAA Tournament as a member of the conference (as of 2022-23).

All-Time Oakland Golden Grizzlies Records

Points Scored

  • Travis Bader: 2,351
  • Mike Helms: 2,314
  • Keith Benson: 1,903

Rebounds

  • Keith Benson: 1,103
  • Corey Petros: 1,073
  • Jalen Hayes: 971

Assists

  • Johnathon Jones: 819
  • Kay Felder: 788
  • Jalen Moore: 480

FAQs

Is Oakland a Division I school?

The Oakland Golden Grizzlies are a Division I program for men’s basketball. They play in the Horizon League and most recently won the 2017 regular season title.

How many NBA players came from Oakland?

As of the 2022-23 season, there are no active NBA players that came from Oakland. Drew McDonald was a 2019 All-American but went undrafted during the NBA Draft. Rawle Marshall became the first Golden Bear to play in the NBA in 2005.

When did Oakland play in March Madness?

The Golden Grizzlies have qualified for the NCAA Tournament three times: 2005, 2010, and 2011, as of the 2022-23 season. It has yet to advance past the first round.

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