Griffith Hits The Heights

06 February 2006
By Jeff Taylor, PA Sport

If the 'Year of Women's Basketball' initiative is to show how far the sport can take a player in life, Yolanda Griffith is perfectly suited for the task.

The Chicago-born forward, who turns 36 in March, has hit the heights at every level.

At George Washington Carver High School, Griffith was a Parade All- American. At NCAA Division II Florida Atlantic, she showed signs of becoming a prolific scorer and rebounder.

In the pros in the United States last year, she averaged 18.5 points and 9.8 rebounds in the WNBA Finals to lead the Sacramento Monarchs to the title.

She has always been terrific in the EuroLeague Women. Griffith averaged almost 25 points, 17.1 rebounds and four steals per game in the 1996-97 campaign. Nearly a decade later with UMMC Ekaterinburg, whom she will represent as part of the `Rest of the World' team in the EuroLeague Women All-Star Game next month, Griffith has been outstanding.

She had a season-high 22 points on eight of 13 shooting and was a perfect six-of-six at the line while also pulling down eight rebounds in an attempt to keep UMMC alive in the EuroLeague play-offs, but Griffith could not prevent a two-game sweep by MKB Euroleasing Sopron in the eighth-finals.

Nevertheless, when Griffith runs onto the floor in Pecs, Hungary, for the All-Star Game on March 8, youngsters will see the ultimate example of how far they can go in the game.

Could Griffith have ever imagined the opportunities that would come her way simply through basketball?

"The only think I ever wanted to do was play basketball to the best of my ability," she said to PA Sport on behalf of FIBA Europe.

"I enjoy the game, and I only wanted people to enjoy it and enjoy watching me play, so I'm very happy that it has turned out the way it has. Definitely more than I ever imagined."

Griffith also does it at international level.

With Team USA, Griffith played a vital role in their gold medal run at the Athens Olympics in 2004.

"Winning in the Olympics was fantastic because you are competing for your country against the best players in the world," she said.

There is a very good chance Griffith will continue to take the game to new heights after her playing days are over.

"I really would like to get into coaching," she said. "That is something I think I would really enjoy."

When you think of the `Year of Women's Basketball', think Yolanda Griffith.

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