Sooner or later, Tyler Griffey will seperate himself from the most common question: "are you related to Ken Griffey Jr.?"
The answer, of course, is no. Griffey is a 6-8 power forward from Ballwin (Mo.) Lafayette. He's a high school sophomore not even of the same ethnic background as the future Hall-of-Fame baseball centerfielder.
Soon, Griffey hopes to be a household name in the Midwest. He started for his high school team as a freshman and through four games in his sophomore year, he's averaging 20 points and 7.3 rebounds a game.
Griffey had a good start at the Marshall County Hoopfest on Dec. 2. Against Riverdale (Tenn.), Griffey poured in 17 points, had six rebounds and blocked four shots.
"Playing on the big stage as that was, it's exciting," Griffey said on Sunday evening. "But I try looking at it as just another game and I play that way."
With a successful summer that included an invite to the Adidas Superstar Camp in Suwanee, Ga., Griffey turned heads of many coaches and recruiting analysts.
The attention has carried over to the ongoing season where opposing coaches have done a lot to minimize Griffey's impact.
"Teams are trying to stop me," he adds. "That's what I thrive on. I think I do better when teams are trying to focus more on me."
Griffey says the invite to Adidas Camp this past summer was one of the biggest thrills for him thus far.
Many people in attendance rated Griffey as one of the camp's top performers. In doing so, his recruitment has picked up since the summer.
"I'm hearing a lot from Midwest schools mainly," Griffey said. "Ohio State, Mizzou, Kansas, SLU, Purdue, Illinois and I've heard a little bit from Stanford as well."
This fall, Griffey visited Kansas for Midnight Madness. He has also been to Missouri several times, including most recently for a basketball game and he's been to St. Louis for a game.
"My dad is making me take as many visits as possible and I agree with him, I enjoy the visits," Griffey said. "I'm trying to get a feel for the college life and see the coaches at practice. I enjoy the practices as much as the games or campus tours because I like to see the coach at practice and how he coaches his team."
Growing up in Missouri, Griffey is naturally most familiar with the Tigers and Billikens.
Griffey says he often watches Missouri because of their playing style and because of a former Lafayette player.
"A kid that used to go to my high school, Matt Lawrence, is one of their best shooter," he adds. "My high school coach is built-in to their program."
He also cited the coaching philosophy of head coach Mike Anderson for the 40 minutes of hell, a former Nolan Richardson disciple, as a big selling point.
"They're having a great season," he said of Missouri, who is 9-1 through Sunday. "Run-n-gun, pressing, the up-and-down, no matter what - I like that style of play."
According to Griffey, Ohio State is a new addition to the process.
"I think they've called my high school coach a few times and my dad and I have contacted them once or twice," he explained. "We've been telling them how I'm doing and they're checking up with my coach and that sort of thing."
For now, it's hard for Griffey to get too attached to any program. He's pretty far from making a decision of any kind.
"Obviously it's too early to tell (what kind of factors my decision will come down to)," he said. "I'll just keep taking visits and learn more about these teams."
In the meantime, Griffey says he's spending a lot of time working on his strength and endurance. During the season, he spends 15-20 minutes every few days with his team doing quick reps for endurance and stamina.
In the offseason, Griffey said he spends a lot of time at a place called Velocity Sports Performance, working on his strength and building up his body in the weight room.
As far as his game is concerned, there's one particular area of focus.
"I think I need to improve my defense," Griffey said. "I'm not at a level I want it to be and it's not at a level my coach wants it to be. We talk about things I need to get better at and it's usually at the top of the list."
Griffey said he projects at the 3-4 at the next level. He's a face-up shooter that can also score inside.
In the meantime, he's trying to help Lafayette win as many games as possible. Right now, they're 2-2.
"It's going all right," he said, "but we could do better."