The 6-foot-2 small forward for the Vikings will switch to shooting guard for the Zags, who have been chasing after her since she was a freshman.
LAKE STEVENS — Most would say signing an autograph is easier than making a layup.
But Kylee Griffen, who’s been playing basketball since age 3, was more nervous to ink her college commitment than she was to take any shot for Lake Stevens. With the fluidity of her trademark jumper, Griffen settled into the moment Wednesday and signed her letter of intent to play at Gonzaga.
“I’m really happy to do the final step,” said Griffen, who was recruited by the Zags since her freshman year. She counted more than 30 offers from programs across the nation, including Pac-12 schools, before she announced her commitment to Gonzaga in April.
Lake Stevens held a ceremony after school for four student-athletes and their families to formally sign their agreements. Griffen was flanked by her parents, who also played NCAA Division I basketball.
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Also honored by Lake Stevens were Seattle University commit Lillian Eason (volleyball), Louisville commit Ainsley Mattingly (rowing) and Towson commit Sarah Johnson (softball).
“She’s always been addicted to it, diving on the floor and scoring a lot of points even as a third-grader” said Griffen’s father Dexter, who played at Eastern Washington. “I knew she was going to be special, but this, not really. She went through a gangly phase where she couldn’t hold on to a jump ball and would get flung to the ground. Her freshman year, it started coming together.”
Kylee, who’s 6 feet 2, remembers days following her father to his practices when he coached boys basketball at Mariner. She’d shoot during halftime of games and played with the boys on weekends before joining the Tree of Hope girls basketball club.
Griffen is rated the No. 11 small forward in the nation by ESPN. For Gonzaga, she’ll be a shooting guard and is working on improving her three-point shot to prepare for the transition.
The Zags are the defending West Coast Conference tournament champions and have reached the NCAA tournament in seven of their past eight seasons.
“It’s such a good fit for her,” Lake Stevens girls basketball coach Randy Edens said. Her mother Alisa, who played college hoops at Boise State, is also from Spokane.
“You add it all up and I’m not surprised,” Edens continued. “And there was a lot of other interest, but I don’t think she was too interested in moving too far away.”
Griffen averaged 17.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per game as a junior. She surpassed 1,000 career points during the postseason and is a three-time All-Wesco first-team pick.
The goal this season is to reach the Class 4A state tournament. Lake Stevens hasn’t advanced since placing fifth in 2013. During Griffen’s era, the Vikings have lost their past three winner-to-state games by a combined seven points.
“Last year was really frustrating because it felt like that was our year to get there,” said Griffen, one of three seniors on this season’s roster. “Hopefully we can break that barrier and get to state. That’s a huge motivator.”
And less pressure than signing a college commitment — to Griffen, at least.
“Giving it (basketball) up crossed my mind at one point,” Griffen said. “So, this is amazing. I’m so excited to get to Gonzaga.”