The Nebraska women’s basketball program is adding another name and number to its wall of honor inside the new Pinnacle Bank Arena - and this one is a legend.
Kelsey Griffin, one of the most accomplished Huskers both on and off the court in program history, will be honored by Nebraska with the retirement of her No. 23 jersey on Wednesday, Jan. 29, when the Huskers take on Michigan. She will join 1993 Wade Trophy Winner and CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Famer Karen Jennings (No. 51) and 1988 Big Eight Player-of-the-Year Maurtice Ivy (No. 30) among Nebraska’s retired jersey honorees.
Griffin, who will travel back from her seasonal home in Bendigo, Australia, to receive the honor, said she was “blown away” by the news that her jersey was being retired.
“Having my jersey retired is such an incredible honor. It means so much to me, it is hard to put into words,” Griffin said. There have been so many people along the way who have helped make this possible, and it means more because of who I was able to accomplish this with. Nebraska is such an incredible university and amazing place. It’s filled with great people, and it is because of all these attributes that makes my jersey retirement so special.”
Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said the time was right to honor Griffin.
“Kelsey Griffin is one of the greatest players and greatest people in the history of Nebraska women’s basketball,” Yori said. “You look at what she accomplished while she was here both on the court, in the classroom and in the community, then you look at what she has done in the WNBA and overseas, and it is pretty amazing. Those accomplishments probably only tell people a small part of the story of how tremendous a person Kelsey really is. I am so happy that we can honor her in this way, and I can’t wait to see her on January 29th.”
Griffin, a first-team All-American on the court and a national player-of-the-year finalist in 2010, became the face of Nebraska women’s basketball for five seasons (2006-10). The lightly recruited 6-2 forward from Eagle River, Alaska, powered Nebraska’s rise to national prominence by earning three first-team All-Big 12 Conference awards.
Griffin also led Nebraska to a trio of NCAA Tournament appearances in 2007, 2008 and 2010. Her final season as a Husker, she etched a permanent place in Husker history as part of a six-player senior class that led Nebraska to an unbeaten regular season (29-0), 30 consecutive victories, a Big 12 Conference regular-season title and Nebraska’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Sweet 16. She captured Big 12 Player-of-the-Year honors while leading NU to a 32-2 final record that included a 16-0 Big 12 mark.
She ranks No. 3 on Nebraska’s all-time scoring list with 2,033 points, while ranking No. 2 in the Husker record book with 1,019 career rebounds. She joins 1993 Wade Trophy winner and fellow first-team All-American Karen Jennings as the only players in Nebraska history with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. Griffin also set Nebraska’s career record with 40 double-doubles in her four years on the court in Lincoln. Her 127 career starts rank No. 2 in school history.
As a senior, Griffin averaged 20.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, including 20 double-doubles. She also earned a spot on the Big 12 All-Defensive Team by notching 60 steals, 26 blocked shots and took a remarkable 29 charges on the year.
Her efforts as a senior earned her unanimous first-team All-America honors, and she was a finalist for every major national player-of-the-year award, including the Wade, Naismith and Wooden awards.
While fueling Nebraska’s run to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, tournament became NU’s first-ever winner of the Senior CLASS Award, recognizing her achievements in the community and the classroom, while honoring her character and success in competition.
Griffin also was honored as Nebraska’s Female Student-Athlete of the Year in 2009-10, before earning the No. 3 overall pick in the 2010 WNBA Draft. Although drafted by the Minnesota Lynx, Griffin was quickly traded to the Connecticut Sun, where she earned a spot on the WNBA All-Rookie Team in 2010. She completed her fourth professional season with the Sun in 2013, starting all 34 games and averaging career bests of 8.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. In her four-year WNBA career, she has played in 133 games with 61 starts for Connecticut.
In addition to her WNBA career, Griffin has played professionally in Hungary, Israel and most recently for the Bendigo Spirit in Australia’s WNBL. In 2012-13, Griffin led the Spirit to the WNBL title and was named the MVP of the championship series. She has returned to Australia for the 2013-14 campaign, where she plays alongside former Husker teammate and 2012 Olympian Chelsea Aubry.