If you asked Aubrey Griffin in eight grade where she would be this week, she might’ve had her eyes set on a soccer field in France instead of a basketball court in Storrs, CT. This probably comes as a surprise to some. Griffin comes from a basketball family, after all. Her father, Adrian, had a nine year NBA career and just won the NBA Finals as an assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors.
“I actually played soccer up until 8th grade, so he never forced me to play basketball or anything,” said Griffin of her Dad’s influence on her hoops career. “But I just decided to go out and play one day, and I was like ‘I love this and I want to do this sport’. So, I ended up going into basketball. Then he started helping me and training me to get better than I already was.”
While her father’s influence is not what got her into the sport to start with, it is certainly something that has stuck with her since. Through high school (and now as a Husky) Griffin donned her dad’s number — 44.
She noted that wearing his number means a lot to her, especially “because through my high school career he wasn’t able to come to all the games so a piece of him was here.”
With 44 across her chest, her high school career progressed and concluded with all the accolades you would expect for an elite player -- a state finals appearance, being named New York Player of the Year and an invite to the McDonald’s All American game. For Griffin, that also included a commitment to UConn as a top 30 recruit in the country.
For UConn fans who are not as impressed with the recruit’s rankings, perhaps early praise from Head coach Geno Auriemma will ignite some excitement. Not one to offer up high opinions of freshmen, especially this early on, he had nothing but positive remarks about Griffin on Monday.
“She is athletic as s—t. She is a member of her family, let me tell you,” Auriemma said. “That kid goes, and goes, and goes. I don’t know what position she is, she’s a guard, she’s a forward, I don’t know. But that sucker rebounds the ball, she plays defense -- I’ve been really impressed by her. Really impressed.”
Griffin herself was more humble when discussing her beginning weeks with the team. She did note that she didn’t feel lost, as many freshmen do.
“I just try to soak in information and try to understand it as well as I can, and then try to do it.”
As far as what aspects of the game Griffin wants to work on as summer workouts continues, she said, “I want to get better overall, but I am working a lot on shooting stuff’.
Additionally, she cited working on the “little things” like rebounding and defense -- areas that have certainly impressed her coach so far.
Ultimately, as the summer winds on, Griffin is confident that she knows what it takes to be at Connecticut: “Keep working hard and be a great teammate.”