When thinking of powerhouse high school basketball programs, Ossining doesn’t exactly come to mind. But recently, the top program in women’s college basketball has taken a particular interest in some of their top prospects. Since 2013, three players from Ossining have committed to play at UConn.
The first was Saniya Chong, who spent four years with the Huskies where she won three national championships and was the team’s starting point guard as a senior. This past season, Andra Espinoza-Hunter came to Storrs but eventually left and transferred to Mississippi State.
The latest to join the pipeline is Aubrey Griffin, a 2019 wing rated as the No. 33 player in her class, according to ESPN.
So what makes Griffin different than Chong and Espinoza-Hunter? When discussing Griffin, Ossining head coach Dan Ricci continually noted her athleticism — something that certainly runs in the family. Her father Adrian spent 12 years in the NBA and her mother Audrey was an All-American track star at Seton Hall. Her brother is a guard at Illinois.
“Pound for pound, she’s the best athlete in the family,” her father told ESPNW. Ricci told The UConn Blog it was “great lineage.”
On top of that, she checks off all the necessary boxes UConn looks for.
“[Griffin’s] a hard-worker. Very talented kid and a good defender, can play on the perimeter and just a great kid,” Ricci said. “She hasn’t scratched the surface on how good she’s going to be.”
“She’s very unassuming, modest and doesn’t really know how good she is. She gets along with everyone and is an easy kid to get along with — always smiling, always laughing. If she’s not doing well you’ll see it all over her face. She doesn’t hide it well. If she’s enjoying herself, you’ll know it.”
Ricci is certainly proud of how many former players end up at UConn.
“It’s great. They’re all great kids. Andra obviously didn’t work out for them. Saniya had a great career,” he said. “I think Aubrey’s different than both of them. She’s an athletic kid that’s going to do great things at UConn.”
Chong’s success certainly helped open the door for Geno Auriemma and his staff to put Ossining on their radar. But Ricci also believes the culture they’ve built plays a big part as well.
“I think we’ve been blessed, we’ve had some great talent,” he sad. “I think UConn’s good at finding good players but good people and we pride ourselves on bringing up great kids and all three of those kids are great kids.”
In the past few seasons, freshmen have struggled to crack the lineup in their first season playing for Auriemma. But with a pair of mentors to help her, Griffin will hopefully be prepared for the test.
“She knows it’s going to the be toughest thing she’s ever done in her life,” Ricci said. “I’ve explained that to her, I’m sure Saniya and Andra have as well. But she’s up for the challenge, she wants to play at the next level and knows they can get her to where she needs to be at the next level.
“She’s hungry and I know [UConn assistant Shea Ralph] can’t wait to coach her. I think they’re getting a great kid and a great athlete that’s going to do great things at Connecticut.”