Griffin leads locals in NCAA openers (Basketball)
When Kelsey Griffin of Eagle River began her freshman season at the University of Nebraska, she was just one of many Alaskans playing NCAA Division I basketball.
Right now she is at the top of the class.
Griffin, of Chugiak High fame, is being billed as an All-American candidate this season, with the university printing posters and postcards to promote the 6-foot-2 senior forward. The two-time All-Big 12 selection is coming off a foot injury.
She was perfect in the season opener, shooting 5 for 5 from the floor and 2 for 2 from the line to help Nebraska beat Davidson 86-62. Griffin finished with a team-high 13 points and seven rebounds in just 18 minutes of playing time.
Made her presence felt immediately—converting a three-point, making a steal and assisting on a layup in the first 85 seconds of the game.
Griffin is one of at least eight Alaskans playing basketball at the NCAA Division I level.
Juneau’s Talisa Rhea is shooting the lights out at Oregon State University. The 5-foot-11 junior guard got the season off to a great start, netting 20 points on 6-of-17 shooting in a 71-61 win over Cal Poly.
Rhea came up big when it mattered most, taking over in the game twice in the second half when the Beavers needed a spark. She produced a 6-0 run to pad a 45-35 cushion and later delivered a 5-0 run for a 55-48 advantage.
She now has 38 career double-figure scoring games, including eight with 20 or more points.
At the University of Miami, Anchorage’s Sylvia Bullock is a starting forward.
The ‘U’ opened the season with a 75-52 win over UC Riverside. The 6-foot-2 sophomore played 30 minutes, delivering six rebounds, five assists and two points on 1-of-4 shooting.
Bullock, of Southside fame, played defense, too, blocking two shots and making one steal. What’s more, she didn’t make a turnover.
Anchorage’s Anna Simmers is a freshman at the United States Military Academy at West Point. She did not play in Army’s 74-70 win over Wagner or its 63-48 loss to Loyola (Md.).
Maybe she is going to redshirt.
The 5-foot-9 forward comes to Army from Anchorage Christian School, where she was an all-state performer in basketball, volleyball and track.
On the hardwood, Simmers she was twice named Class 3A Player of the Year on a team that won state titles in 2007 and 2008.
At Eastern Washington, Anchorage’s Kevin Winford made a big play late but couldn’t save the Eagles from a season-opening setback, 64-58 to Portland.
Winford finished with only five points, although he converted a three-point play to get Eastern Washington as close as 58-52 with 1:56 to play.
The 5-foot-11 guard, a former Alaska Class 4A Player of the Year of Bartlett High fame, started and played 19 minutes.
A new coaching era got off to a positive start at the University of Kentucky, thanks in part to Ramon Harris of Anchorage.
Kentucky beat Morehead State 79-59 to welcome headliner coach John Calipari.
The 6-foot-8 Alaskan was the first player to come off the bench for the Wildcats. He had four rebounds, one steal, one assist and drained one of two free throws in 21 minutes.
At Oral Roberts University, Damen Bell-Holter got his first taste of college basketball against Wake Forest.
The 6-foot-10 freshman from Hydaburg came off the bench to play 13 minutes. He scored two points, grabbed two rebounds and committed two personal fouls as Oral Roberts lost 76-56.
Will Egolf of Juneau plays for Bradley University. (Read below)