Illini basketball commit Griffey visits at Shootout

Tyler Griffey, a high school basketball player from Ballwin, Mo., and his father, Chris, talk with Illini basketball coach Bruce Weber at the Illinois basketball shootout Sunday. Griffey has verbally committed to Illinois for the class of 2009. Wes Anderson

Tyler Griffey, a high school basketball player from Ballwin, Mo., and his father, Chris, talk with Illini basketball coach Bruce Weber at the Illinois basketball shootout Sunday. Griffey has verbally committed to Illinois for the class of 2009. Wes Anderson

By Jeremy Werner

Illinois commit Tyler Griffey has participated in two AAU basketball tournaments in Arkansas and Ohio. He has also traveled to Portland, Ore., and New York City for training with the adidas Nations team.

With a trip to Senegal, Africa, planned for next week with adidas Nations, you would think Griffey would take a well-deserved weekend off.

But the 6-foot-8 forward from Wildwood, Mo., took a 210-mile road trip this weekend to watch his future teammates at the University of Illinois Team Shootout.

“I’m keeping busy,” Griffey said.

Griffey did not participate in the shootout but chatted with Illinois coach Bruce Weber and future teammates Brandon Paul (Warren) and Joseph Bertrand (Sterling), senior guards with verbal commits to the Illini.

Griffey will not participate in as many AAU tournaments this summer to free up time for working on his strength in the weight room.

“I’ve done all the major tournaments before, at least twice the past couple summers,” Griffey said. “With me being committed, there’s really no point in doing the tournaments where colleges come and see me play. Coach Weber’s been to my games … so he’s happy.”

Griffey has spent much of his time with the adidas Nations team working on rebounding drills with former NBA head coach Paul Silas. He said learning from Silas has been the “highlight” of the summer.

“He teaches us assets of the pro game we’ve never experienced before,” Griffey said. “He makes us get after it. He knows the game so well. If you ask him a question, he’ll answer it. That’s what I’ve been trying to take back from it, get as much knowledge out of it.”

Griffey, Bertrand, Paul and Peoria guard D.J. Richardson constitute ESPN.com’s No. 2-ranked recruiting class, behind North Carolina. The Illini have also received verbal commits from two of Scout.com’s top-15 juniors in the nation, Waukegan’s Jereme Richmond and Rich South’s Crandall Head, younger brother of Rockets guard and former Illini Luther Head.

Griffey said he’s not setting any goals for his college career quite yet, but said it will likely be a fun experience.

“I can’t wait to get up there to start playing with those guys,” Griffey said.