June 23, 2016

Grigsby spreading his wings

Kevin McCarthy

Having a parent who was a prominent local college hoops player can be a mixed heritage. Possibly it's a positive, maybe a negative or likely something in-between for a son who in the midst of making his own name on the basketball court. Al Grigsby was a powerful, in-the-paint player at California but Riley Grigsby's game displays much greater versatility.

photo of Al Grigsby

A 6-foot-6, 2018 prospect at Archbishop Mitty, also with the West Valley Basketball Club (WVBC) and the #16 prospect in NorCalPreps' 2018 rankings, Grigsby is coming off a season in which he earned Second Team All-West Catholic Athletic League honors. But 2016-17 will bring a different core group to the fore for the Monarchs as Ben Kone, Nick LaBruna and Michael Scott have graduated. Grigsby, 6-foot-7 Travis Friar, 6-foot-6 Mike Diaz will form a multi-faceted frontline while Kyle Peterson returns alongside a bevy of other experienced guards. Mitty looks to have the makings of a contending-for-the-top squad after an 8-6 league record that was negatively impacted by Kone's season-ending injury suffered in late January and much of that has to do with Grigsby's ball skills and shooting range. "We lost a lot of key players but we'll have good talent," Grigsby explained. There will also be the plus of familiarity. "We have five Mitty players on our West Valley team."

He is proficient at scoring inside and out -- "I'm a really good shooter"-- plus create. Asked to name his other assets, Grigsby added, "I can rebound and play physical."

One recent viewing of him in action with his WVBC team was a vision of both his and Mitty's future. It was a demonstration of patience concluding with stepping up. Entering overtime in a first-one-to-score-wins-the-game scenario, Grigsby won the tip against his Nor Cal Renegades opponent and West Valley came down the court probing for an opening. Methodically passing the ball from side-to-side in hopes of generating a defensive lapse, Grigsby eventually received a pass, went up and buried a trey. It was disciplined ball movement with a sense of purpose--generating an open look. Nothing was forced, no hero ball attempted. He simply came through in the clutch which is what will be required of him this coming season.

Besides that moment, another sign of things to come appeared when Grigsby nailed six three-pointers in a Division II playoff game against Whitney High last season. His final trey gave the Monarchs a 58-56 lead in overtime they never relinquished after trailing most of the matchup.

But he knows the components to his game need honing. "My ball handling and my defense are areas I'm working to improve."

Additionally, "I may not be the loudest one but I think I'm a leader by playing as hard as I can."

Why he chose Archbishop Mitty is an intriguing tale, one that may or may not provide a clue when Grigsby's recruiting gets serious. "I attended Mitty camps when I was younger but I visited open houses at other schools before deciding on my high school. Mitty felt more comfortable."

He sees himself as a small forward, power forward at the college level. His preference is "mainly the West Coast but the East Coast is certainly something I would consider. "I just want to get my name out there as one of the best players in California."

Al Grigsby, his father as well as his WVBC coach, offered this about his son. "Riley's a D1 kid, where, we don't know. We would like him to separate himself by taking over and putting his imprint on the game more."

Bob Bramlett, co-founder of the WVBC, said, "He has a body built for physical play, the touch of a pure shooter -- in fact a great shooter -- and good court sense. One thing his Dad did with him early was apply the same philosophy that Maureen Caloiaro applied with her son Angelo, a former Monarch and USF Don who is currently playing overseas. Teach him early the skills necessary to not just dribble a ball but to understand his surroundings and make "guard decisions." I compare them favorably with the exception that Riley filled out earlier than Angelo. If Riley can get to Angelo's level of court awareness and presence, along with growing as a defender, then he is a shoe-in for high major."

He continued, "It's never easy being the son of someone whose jersey hangs from the rafters at Cal yet I believe Riley will make his own path and leave a trail for others to follow. He is a fantastic teammate. The next step that comes with that are personal accountability and setting standards for other teammates to follow. Riley is young. Time is still a friend."