Anna Griffin chooses Best fit, commits to Virginia
With over 30 Division I offers in her pocket, Griffin makes choice to traverse to Virginia
Having never stepped on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Aurora Christian’s Anna Griffin had to know the choice to become a Cavalier was really the right fit for her to go through with it.
For the class of 2021 standout, Virginia’s coaches checked all the boxes of showing continued interest, having her academic opportunities laid out to bare, and resources available to show they meant business.
“That I had made a decision without even going to the school says a lot about the program, says a lot about the people, says a lot about the area, even fans and something like that, it really does say a lot,” Griffin said.
Being recruited by head coach Tina Thompson, the first draft pick in WNBA history, four-time WNBA champion, two-time Olympic Gold medalist and Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer, Griffin has a lot of respect for how Thompson treated her from a personal perspective during the recruiting process.
“Obviously she’s a legend, everybody knows that,” Griffin said. “But her as a person, it’s like a different story. She’s so down to earth and on the phone with her I can talk about anything. That foes her and the other two coaches I was talking with as well.”
Having held Power 5 Conference offers from the likes of Seton Hall, Marquette, Virginia, Penn State and state of Illinois offers from the likes of Loyola, Illinois and Northern Illinois, there were many viable options on the table for the now-senior ACS student.
Thompson and the Cavs coaching staff’s continued commitment to her throughout the recruiting process stayed an important part of Griffin’s decision-making, staying in contact with Griffin’s AAU coach Barry Bradford and her Aurora Christian head coach Burney Wilkie.
“She (Thompson) had always been in contact with Barry and was always talking to me and saw me progress throughout the year and she got the opportunity to offer me so she took me right away,” Griffin said. “She said if anything were to happen, we have your offer the whole entire time. Which let me know, because some schools, they don’t do that. They tell you you’re not going to get your offer until you commit. Some people back out before you do depending on how interested you are in them. So for her to say that, stay all the way until the end that let me know if she was 110% committed than I would be too.”
And of course, Griffin always had coaching suitors.
“I know she had 5-7 offers before transferring then the summer coming into her junior year,” Wilkie said. “I think she hit about 15 and then over the course of her junior year and this summer the offers doubled again.”
Able to play several spots on the hardwood, Griffin excelled both for the Eagles and Example Sports AAU, with her numerous abilities. Wilkie guessed that she’s best be able to be a slashing small forward in college, but could be a stretch-four type player. Her floor vision just adds to the whole package that is her game.
Griffin said her ability to be a combo-type guard who could even play in the post was what separated her as a priority for Virginia.
“She can really be a matchup problem for people,” Wilkie said. “She can take you outside and hit 3’s or get to the basket from the perimeter. If you put someone smaller on her, she’ll post them up and has tons of ability on the block.
In the year-plus that Griffin has been at ACS by way of Plainfield Central, Wilkie and Griffin have gained the trust of one another to the point that the coach says Griffin’s basketball IQ is “the highest of any player I’ve ever coached.”
Wilkie spoke of how easy it was to attest to Griffin’s characters when inquiring schools came calling about Griffin.
“What I like to talk to schools about is how over the past year or so, is how great of a leader she has developed into,” Wilkie said. “She is someone that all the girls in the program look up to and she’s really been able to put that to good use. She’s become such an encourager to the incoming freshmen. It’s just been so fun to see her develop.”
Griffin said having the offers and opportunities laid out before her was a blessing and that the Covid-19 pandemic was a stark reminder of how things could potentially be taken away.
“At first, it was scary for everybody,” Griffin said.
Being an older player on her Example Sports team, Bradford looked to Griffin to be a leader, and that was also the case for the Eagles.
Griffin is especially thankful she had this past AAU season given the extenuating circumstances.
“I feel like I’ve came a long way from being at my first AAU team… to my last, which is Example Sports, just being able to progress and get better and work harder and having people support me like with my shot, and my dribbling, just my skills in general has been a huge part of it,” Griffin said.
Now, to develop and prepare for a collegiate workload where she intends to be a finance major, Griffin is still in improvement mode, regardless of what happens this basketball season.
“To be able to go play somewhere where I know I fit well as far as academically and athletically, it’s an amazing feeling,” Griffin said.