Garfield grad Rose makes progress at NKU

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Garfield graduate Grayson Rose, right, now playing for Northern Kentucky, battles for position with YSU’s Mary Dunn Thursday night.

YOUNGSTOWN — Camryn Whitaker couldn’t be happier with the progress of Grayson Rose.

The Garfield High School graduate is a freshman on the Northern Kentucky women’s basketball team, choosing the Norse over Youngstown State.

Thursday, Rose got to showcase her talents in front of her family and friends, who made the 40-minute drive from Garrettsville.

She said the experience meant a lot to her.

“I do anything I can do for my team when I go in,” said the 6-foot-3 Rose, who leads her team with 14 blocked shots. “I just use my length to the best of my ability, try to help my team out to be successful.”

Whitaker, Northern Kentucky’s head coach, said Rose started early in the season, but was moved to the bench after two games. Rose told her, “We’ll, it might be better if I come off the bench.”

“She’s a pleaser, which is a great quality to have, great teammate,” Whitaker said.

The Northern Kentucky coaches and players tried to pump up Rose during shootaround on Thursday, so she wouldn’t be so nervous. She was ready and her shot was there. Rose was 0 of 2 from 3-point range with a rebound and blocked shot in 7 minutes.

“It wasn’t falling for her today,” said Whitaker, whose team lost 54-51 to YSU. “It wasn’t falling for any of us today, really.”

This is a young Norse team with seven freshmen and four sophomores on the roster, going through growing pains. The team is struggling with the grind of the season with all the newcomers getting used to a collegiate schedule.

The pace of the game is different for Rose, but she’s trying her best with the help of lifting and conditioning — something she’ll hone during the offseason.

Whitaker said she has to instill more confidence in the 6-3 freshman, who averages less than three points a game, has 59 rebounds and shoots 17 of 21 from the foul line.

“I have so much confidence in her, but I think she struggles with herself,” Whitaker said of Rose. “She’s such a good shooter.”

A face-up player inside, Rose was integral in a pair of Garfield Division III regional runs.

At Northern Kentucky, Rose is only getting better with the tutelage of Norse assistant coach Ashley Earley, who played at Vanderbilt and in the WNBA.

Whitaker said Rose’s skills are continually improving.

“She’s going to be so good for us,” Whitaker said. “We constantly talk to her about the process, just working hard every day to get better.”