Ken Griffey Jr. has a talented family — and one that apparently loves Arizona.
Griffey’s son, Trey, committed last year to play for coach Rich Rodriguez and the Wildcats, and he spent his freshman season redshirting. Little did anyone know that this relatively uneventful year would be so beneficial to the Arizona women’s basketball program.
On Wednesday, Ken’s daughter Taryn Griffey, considered one of the top girls basketball players in the country, committed to join her brother in Tucson. And while that not might seem all that surprising on its surface — siblings going to the same school isn’t uncommon, after all — it’s worth noting that she turned down offers from a variety of the best programs in the country in order to sign with one that went 12-18 last season, has never reached a Final Four and hasn’t even played in the NCAA tournament since 2005.
Taryn, a 5-foot-7 point guard at Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips High, is ranked by ESPN as the No. 45 player in the nation and the No. 12 guard. She missed all of last season — her junior season — with a torn ACL but before that was named the Florida Class 8A Player of the Year after leading Dr. Phillips to a state title as a sophomore.
“My family was pretty shocked,” Taryn told Central Florida News of her surprise commitment. “I hadn’t said anything, because I didn’t really know what I was thinking. My brother is here, and my dad and him were high-fiving.”
She added, “My brother being out there had some influence on it, but I really like the coach and I really like the atmosphere out there.”
Arizona is coached by Niya Butts, who is in her fifth year at the helm after serving as an assistant at Kentucky and Michigan State and playing under Pat Summitt at Tennessee.
The Wildcats have finished above .500 only once in that time — they went 17-12 in 2010-11 — and haven’t played in the NCAA tournament under Butts, but Taryn said that the lack of historical success wasn’t a deterrent … and might have actually helped.
“One thing I really wanted to do ever since I was younger was make a name for myself and for a program,” Griffey told Central Florida News, “like how Skylar Diggins made her name at Notre Dame and Brittney Griner made her name at Baylor.”
Something that certainly did help, though, was her familiarity with Arizona, where she said she helped her brother move into his dorm last year.
“I’ve walked around campus with my mom and my dad talks to (athletic director Greg Byrne) a lot. He was saying a lot of good things are going to start happening in the women’s program,” Griffey said.