Kelsey Griffin left Nebraska as a 2010 First-Team All-American, a three-time First-Team All-Big 12 selection, the 2010 Big 12 Player of the Year and the No. 3 player on Nebraska’s career scoring list with 2,033 points.
Yet somehow, when she entered the WNBA after being drafted as the No. 3 overall pick by the Minnesota Lynx and subsequently traded to the Connecticut Sun, she felt as if she was on her own.
Sure, she had WNBA players such as Chelsea Aubry and Danielle Page, also former Huskers and former Nebraska teammates of Griffin, to look to.
But this was a whole new ball game.
Griffin no longer had teammates she could dream of securing Final Four berth with. And no longer were players vying to play in March.
No, things were different now.
Now, it’s much more about the money.
In turn, it’s much more important to have good statistics, Griffin said.
“Your stat line is so important because it increases your worth and ability to find a job overseas,” Griffin said. “This leads to a far more one-on-one-based game, in my opinion.”
While teammates such as Aubry and Page were there for her at Nebraska, it’s a different relationship within a WNBA locker room, she said.
“My time spent at Nebraska was not always easy, but I always knew my teammates had my back,” Griffin said. “The WNBA is far more cutthroat, and this probably came as the biggest surprise.”
After recording the most career double-doubles in Nebraska women’s basketball history and finishing with the second-most rebounds in program history, Griffin said she feels more alone in the WNBA.
In fact, she’s still figuring out how exactly she needs to network, she said. She knows networking is critical in playing professional women’s basketball. But it’s tough.
She’s held her own in her first four seasons, though.
After her first season with Connecticut, she made her way across the Atlantic Ocean to play in Hungary for a little extra money, she said.
But playing in Europe proved to be much of the same. Because she was signed on as a professional, she felt a ton of pressure to excel.
Ultimately, it was a job for her, she said.
A couple of off seasons later, she signed on to play in Australia, again for financial reasons.
This time, it was different. This time, Griffin fell in love with the country.
“I absolutely love it here and can’t see myself leaving, except for maybe the last couple years of my career for bigger contracts,” she said.
Finally, after traveling across the state and across seas, Griffin found comfort out of college.
Not that playing in Europe or the WNBA was all bad. In fact, it took her to some premiere sites across the globe.
Because of that, though, she only sees family for about three weeks a year. But she hopes her experience motivates her family members to take an adventure themselves.
After all, her list is enough to make even the biggest homebodies jealous.
“Seeing the Opera House in Sydney,” Griffin said. “The Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe. Seeing a wild kangaroo and koala bear, swimming in the Dead Sea, riding a camel in Jerusalem, seeing Jesus’s tomb, visiting Istanbul, driving the Great Ocean Road, meeting amazing people, giving my parents a reason to travel the world and learning so much about myself and life through the process.”
She has a few more trips in the works too.
Vanuatu is her first booked vacation. Then snowboarding in New Zealand. But that will have to wait until she’s done playing basketball.
For now, she has other aspirations.
“My goal in the next three years would be to become a go-to player in the four position and prove it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog,” Griffin said,