Injury-plagued Taryn Griffey ends UA basketball career


Taryn Griffey comes from a long line of well-known athletes with impressive longevity.

Her grandfather, Ken Griffey, spent 19 seasons in Major League Baseball, most of those with the Cincinnati Reds, and was inducted into the club’s hall of fame in 2003.

Her father, Ken Griffey Jr., spent even longer at America’s pastime, 22 years to be exact, mostly with the Reds and Mariners.  He is one of a handful of MLB players to have appeared in games in four different calendar decades.

Unfortunately, that career longevity evidently hasn’t been passed down to Taryn.  Since committing to play basketball at the University of Arizona in May of 2013, every effort to stay on the court has been plagued by injuries that have instead kept her sidelined for much of her time in Tucson.

Finally, she decided enough was enough.  Last week she told head coach Adia Barnes she was leaving the game, frustrated by a continual string of injuries that stretch all the way back to junior high.  She missed her entire junior season at Florida’s Dr. Phillips High School with an ACL injury — after being named the 8A Conference Player of the Year as a sophomore.

She was out for a full season again during her freshman year with the Wildcats, this time thanks to a knee injury. The next season she got off to a fast start, scoring 18 points against Toledo in the first game on the 2015-16 schedule, but announced she was taking a leave of absence after playing in 22 games, starting 14 of those, citing “personal reasons” for her departure.

Griffey was back on the court last season, but again was sidelined with injuries that kept her out of all but 15 games.

This season, she would have been one of just four returning players that would have provided some roster experience as Barnes begins her second season as head coach and tries to build off a disappointing 14-16 overall record that included just five conference wins.

Barnes is left now with three returning players, but all of them got plenty of playing time last season.  Jalea Bennett, the only senior, is a 6-foot guard who played in 27 games and started in five of those, and Destiny Graham is a 6’3″ junior forward wh0 started 25 games.

But it was the sophomore guard, Lucia Alonso, who was the most integral part of last season’s offense.  She played in every game as a freshman and started 27 of those, giving the team a legitimate threat from the outside.  Her 43% accuracy from behind the arc earned her a place in the program record books for the second-highest, single-season, three-point percentage.

Griffey appeared ready for a break-out season and would have given the Cats solid depth in the back court.

The 5’7″ point guard was the No. 45 prospect in the Class of 2014 and had her choice of college offers, but she committed to a program that had posted just one winning season in seven years and was the annual doormat for the Pac-12 Conference.  She said she liked the idea of being able to play a key role in helping to rebuild the Wildcat program.

It also helped that her brother, Trey, was already on board at Arizona, playing football as a wide receiver.  Their famous father would come often to watch his children’s games, providing support and making their college experience a family affair.

Her big brother is gone now, graduated and trying to find a roster spot with an NFL team.  And not having that shoulder to lean on may be contributing to the emotional letdown that has led her to consider early retirement from the game.

In a statement released through the Arizona Athletic Department, Taryn said she would like to stay involved with the team, but didn’t know yet in what capacity.

When she left Florida to begin her basketball career in the desert, she said at the time that she saw it as an opportunity to forge a legacy at Arizona.

She would have had another couple of years to work on that.  But that quest now appears to be over.

(Photo: Arizona Athletics)