Rylan Griffen is playing a different role this year as a freshman at the University of Alabama than he has become accustomed to throughout his years playing ball.
But there’s no denying the value that the Team Trae Young alum is bringing to Bama.
The Crimson Tide (22-3) rose to No. 1 in the nation in the latest AP college basketball poll, their first time in the top spot in 20 years, and Rylan has had a big hand in helping Alabama achieve that feat.
His 16 points in just 20 minutes off the bench in Saturday’s win at Auburn were a boon for Bama, as he led the team in scoring on a night when shots weren’t falling for some of the team’s starters. Rylan knocked down 5-of-7 shots from the field, including 3-of-5 from deep.
He also had two blocks in the win, earning praise from Alabama head coach Nate Oats for his defense on Auburn star scorer Wendell Green Jr.
“Rylan was huge. We don’t win this game without Rylan,” Oats said. “And I really thought he did the best job defensively on Wendell.”
Saturday’s win marked the second time in the last week that Rylan chipped in big with a 5-of-7 performance. He had an identical shooting line when he tallied 14 points, including four threes, in last Saturday’s win at LSU. Rylan has now scored double digits in four of Bama’s last five contests, after doing it just once since November.
He’s embraced his role as Alabama’s sixth man and is a big reason why the Crimson Tide remain undefeated (12-0) in Southeastern Conference play.
“[Coach] always tells me when I’m playing hard, everything else will come,” Rylan said. “He always wants me to shoot when I feel open and I found [my shot] by playing hard, impacting the game in different ways.”