Griffin Among 30 Candidates for Lowe's Senior CLASS Award
Lincoln - Nebraska's Kelsey Griffin was officially named one of 30 candidates for the prestigious Lowe's Senior CLASS award on Wednesday, Nov. 4, honoring women's basketball players across the nation who excel both on and off the court.
To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - classroom, character, community and competition. An acronym for "Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School," the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
Griffin, an All-America candidate on the court, in the classroom and in the community this season, is a two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection. The 6-2 forward from Eagle River, Alaska, enters her senior season as the Big 12 Conference's No. 3 active scorer (1,348 points) and top active career rebounder (665).
After starting during her first three seasons at Nebraska and leading the Huskers to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2007 and 2008, Griffin suffered a foot injury prior to the 2008-09 season and was forced to redshirt.
She made her return to the court after 18 months away from competition in Nebraska's exhibition opener on Nov. 3, scoring 19 points and grabbing eight rebounds in just 19 minutes of action.
Griffin averaged 15.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game as a junior, despite playing the entire season with a broken rib. She led the Huskers to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a win over Xavier in College Park, Md. She had 26 points against the Musketeers and also drew three charges.
In Big 12 play, Griffin averaged 16.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game despite playing just 27 minutes per game because of the rib injury. In fact, her point-per-minute scoring production led the conference, which included 2007 National Player of the Year Courtney Paris from Oklahoma. She trailed only Paris in rebounds per minute in league action. In the final 10 Big 12 games, Griffin averaged 19 points and nine rebounds per game.
Despite wearing a protective vest around her midsection the entire season, Griffin still led the Huskers with 20 charges drawn during her junior year.
"Kelsey is one of the toughest, hard-nosed competitors I have ever coached," Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. "She is a warrior for us on the court and you get her best every night. Not only that, but she is a solid student and an outstanding person."
One of only three players in Big 12 Conference history to be named a three-time first-team Preseason All-Big 12 selection, joining Paris and former Texas All-American Tiffany Jackson, Griffin has also been a standout in the classroom and the community.
Griffin is a two-time first-team academic All-Big 12 selection while carrying better than a 3.4 grade-point average as a biological sciences major. She has aspirations of pursuing a career in medicine following her playing career. In 2007, she was also named to the Big 12 Good Works Team for her commitment to Nebraska's award-winning Life Skills program. She is an eight-time Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll selection and served on Nebraska's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee in 2006-07.
Griffin's achievements have come while overcoming a variety of illnesses and injuries on the court. As a freshman she earned Big 12 Freshman-of-the-Year honors from the Dallas Morning News, while playing in the same freshman class as Oklahoma's Courtney Paris. Griffin's honor came despite battling illness throughout February and March which significantly affected her energy level and playing time.
As a sophomore, she was challenged by a breathing condition with effects similar to asthma, which also limited her playing time. The breathing condition and broken rib both limited her playing time as a junior. While she was battling her own injuries in 2008-09, her father, Jim, faced his own battle with cancer, which they both learned about mid-season.
Now, following a pair of foot surgeries in 2008, Griffin has returned to 100 percent health. Her father has also remained cancer free for more than a year, and Griffin is hoping for her best season with the Big Red in 2009-10. While trying to lead the Huskers to their seventh straight postseason bid, Griffin also hopes to prepare for a WNBA career and has been projected as a potential first-round draft pick.
Griffin is one of just four players from the Big 12 Conference to be listed among the 30 candidates for the 2009-10 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. Griffin is joined by Danielle McCray (Kansas), Ashley Sweat (Kansas State) and Amanda Thompson (Oklahoma).
The list of candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the 2009-10 regular season, and those names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one finalist who best exemplifies excellence in the four C's of classroom, character, community and competition.