When Zion Griffin reflects on his last five months, thoughts inevitably drift to his granddad.
His memory inspires Griffin to shoot for the moon.
"My granddad was like my dad, and I recently lost him in February of this year," said Griffin, a Hinsdale South senior basketball player. "He always told me to never give up and the skies are the limit. When things got tough this year I remember what he told me and kept pushing."
The Hornets' shooting star has settled on his next home.
Griffin, a 6-foot-6 forward, ended his recruitment on Sept. 12 by verbally committing to Iowa State.
Griffin, rated 58th nationally by the 247Sports Composite rankings, was a coveted prospect after a meteoric rise this year. He made his official visit to Iowa State on Sept. 8, and chose the Cyclones over offers from Kansas and Illinois.
Iowa State was the first high-major program to offer Griffin.
"My relationship with the coaching staff was a big one," Griffin said. "They were coaching me before I was even there. (Iowa State coach Steve) Prohm always checks up on me and my family. That says a lot, especially from the head coach. I can truly see that they want to make me better."
Griffin averaged 17.3 points and 8.7 rebounds as a junior at Hinsdale South. Primarily a post, he developed his perimeter skills as the season wore on.
And then his recruiting stock took off.
A kid that had zero Division I offers as late as five months ago dazzled the summer circuit.
"It's been crazy," Griffin said, "but I've stayed humble throughout the whole thing and just remembered what got me here in the first place. This is only the beginning."
Griffin joins an Iowa State program that has won 47 games the last two seasons under Prohm, made two NCAA Tournament appearances and earned a spot in the Sweet 16.
"I'm excited, "Griffin said, "because this is something that a kid would dream about and I'm living it right now. It's just a blessing to be able to play college basketball. I thank my granddad for my success."