As the reigning Big East Rookie of the Year, Billy Garrett Jr. knows a lot is expected of him, and he is ok with that. He knows he has to shoulder a big load and that teams in the Big East will try to key in on him this year.
“I'm just going to allow the game to come to me,” said Garrett Jr. at Big East media day. “I have to affect the game, and not just from a scoring standpoint. It's also defense, setting guys up and rebounding. We've got guys on the team, where I can do that. I got to prove to set an example. Being the top guy on the scouting report is not something I worry about because I'm confident in my teammates and what they can do.”
Garrett Jr. is the Demons' leading returning scorer (12.4 points per game) and top distributor (3.0 assists per game), which also led all Big East freshmen last season. It was an up and down season for Garrett Jr., as he was named Big East Rookie of the Week five times but also missed two games due to his issues with Sickle Cell Anemia.
Along the way, Garrett Jr. took away a couple of valuable lessons playing in the Big East.
“It's a great conference, ultra competitive,” said Garrett Jr. “You never have a night off. Every team brings something different to the table.”
With a year under his belt and the Big East Rookie of the Year award in tow, Garrett Jr. is confident in this upcoming season for the Demons.
“I'm feeling confident,” Garrett Jr. said. “I'm confident in (myself) and where we are as a team right now. Going through the Big East last year, I kind of got a feel for what it takes to be a good teammate. Compared to last year's team, I feel we're in a good place right now.”
Garrett Jr. is certainly a self-assured player. He definitely has the ability, fortitude and gumption to shine in the Big East and he thinks he stacks up well against the other stars of the league. However, to Garrett Jr., it's all about team goals and not individual accolades.
“(Challenging for Big East Player of the Year) is just something in the back of my mind,” said Garrett Jr. “I think I stack up well with the top talent in the league and I'm confident in my abilities. But if we don't win, all that stuff doesn't matter. We got to win games. Once we do that, the rest will take care of itself.”
As a player who has won city and state championships in high school, Garrett Jr. is driven by his passion to win. He absolutely hates to lose and will do all in his power to help stop the losing at DePaul.
“It's extremely tough,” Garrett Jr. admitted to the struggles of losing. “I've been on winning programs my whole life. I feel like my mentality and winning attitude is something I can bring to our program. Collectively, we're trying to change the culture of DePaul basketball. We got a lot of gritty, tough guys. So, I think it will be a good season.”
Chemistry was also a big concern for the Demons last year, as Garrett Jr. lamented.
“Our chemistry was a problem,” Garrett Jr. admitted. “That's where I see the biggest jump in improvement (from last year). We're willing to play with each other more. Guys are buying in. We're understanding of what it takes to be good and what we want our identity to be. We realize who we are and who we want to be as a team.”
Garrett Jr. wants to move on from DePaul's prior struggles and just get better. With an influx of new talent and better chemistry, Garrett Jr. is not opposed to reaching for the stars, much like his coach.
“We want to compete for the Big East championship,” concluded Garrett Jr. “That's the ultimate goal. We feel that we're confident in doing that. We understand a lot of people are doubting us. We're going to go out there and compete. We're confident in what we have. Hopefully, it will be a good year for us.”
Billy Garrett Jr. Confident in Turnaround
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