No matter how much he enjoys his role as a walk-on receiver for the Washington Huskies football team, Connor Griffin knows he will always be pulled toward the basketball court.
So he’s back on it, practicing recently with UW’s basketball team before the football team departed for Atlanta to begin Peach Bowl preparations.
“Basketball was always my first love,” Griffin said at Thursday’s Peach Bowl media day at the Georgia Dome. “As much as I enjoy football, I think there’s always going to be a little piece of me that’s going to be stuck with basketball no matter what I do. I feel like I want to explore that avenue again and see what I can do, especially with the team they have right now. I feel like (coach Lorenzo) Romar’s a great coach to play for. He really encourages all his players, lets them play how they want. It’s something you don’t get in a coach all the time, so it’s kind of cool to experience that.”
Before he came to UW, Griffin, a 6-foot-3, 223-pound junior, spent two seasons as a walk-on basketball player at Gonzaga. He starred in both sports at Lake Oswego High School, though an injury wiped out his junior basketball season and impacted his recruitment.
After trasnferring to Washington, Griffin appeared in eight games as a third-year sophomore in 2015, making his first career reception in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. He’s played in seven games this season, including a start in UW’s season opener against Rutgers.
Football remains his focus, and for now, he’s only with the basketball team as a practice player. He isn’t sure whether his role will expand to suiting up and sitting on the bench during games, saying “that’s something we’ll just kind of address once the season’s over.”
“I’m just trying to learn their plays and everything like that,” Griffin said. “For now, I’m just doing some scout stuff, just trying to compete, get those guys better, get them ready for the next game.”
His friends at Gonzaga might joke about him playing for a rival school, Griffin said, though they ultimately support him.
So who did he root for when Washington played against Gonzaga -- a 98-71 Bulldogs victory in Spokane -- earlier this month?
“I was rooting for a good game,” Griffin said, smiling.