The 6'6”, 205-pound guard is entering his junior season at DePaul, and in his time at the Chicago school, Garrett has been part of teams that have gone just 24-41 (9-27 in the Big East). But to know Garrett is to know a competitor who wants to win— and badly.
That's why with a new coaching staff led by ex-DePaul coach Dave Leitao, Garrett is all about working with a fresh slate and a new approach to the game. He's eager to leave the past behind and start a new chapter of winning at DePaul.
“(The) first two years have been a struggle, (but) that's the grind,” said Garrett while at Big East media day. “(We're) trying to turn the program around and help bring it back to where it was, and when Coach Leitao was here. I think we got the pieces to get that done. Coach Leitao has been doing a great job teaching us and making sure we work. I'm feeling really good about this year. Better than I felt in past years. Now that I've had two years to kind of know what it takes to have a good team, I feel like we got some pieces and personalities that can get it done.”
Garrett is coming off a season in which he averaged 12.3 points and 3.9 assists per game (both tops on the team and which ranked 13th and 4th in the Big East, respectively), while shooting just .397 percent from the field and .327 percent from three-point range. After the season, Garrett was named Big East honorable mention.
Those are fine numbers, but it's all about winning for Garrett. It's all about pushing through and getting DePaul finally over the hump, while winning with more regularity.
“I got an extreme love for the game of basketball, so I have an extreme passion to win and to be successful” Garrett said. “I wouldn't say (my passion) is any higher, but it's high and where it needs to be. We're working really, really hard to be successful this year.”
With DePaul returning Garrett, Myke Henry and Tommy Hamilton, the Demons do return three of their top four scorers. However, scoring has not been DePaul's issue of late. It has been on the defensive side of the ball where DePaul has run into trouble.
Garrett said things will change on defense this year.
“It's been our biggest point of emphasis since we started practicing,” Garrett said regarding defense. “Coach Leitao is a defensive coach. We will have a new look defensively this year. Last year we were more of an in-the-lane pressing team (that) gambled. (But) we had a lot of bad habits. We'll be a lot more solid and a lot more consistent on the defensive end. We'll be more of a pack line type of defense. So, I think it will make a big difference in how our defensive numbers (look) this year.”
“Defensively, I think we have grown a lot as a team,” added Garrett. “Coach Leitao has done an amazing job, (as has) Coach Carter and our whole coaching staff. I think they have made the biggest difference so far in our team and you can see it in practice.”
Considering that it was Garrett's father, Billy Sr. (who is now part of Leitao's staff), who suggested that Leitao be DePaul's new coach, Billy Jr. has a great relationship with his new coach.
“It's great,” said Garrett about his relationship with Leitao. “He's a people person, easy to get along with and easy to talk to. He's very motivating and he has a quiet confidence about himself that feeds into the team. He's got a toughness about him that carries over as well. The relationship off the court is great and on the court he pushes us to make sure that we go as hard as possible.”
Leitao reciprocated the mutual respect and admiration.
“I've been impressed with all the accolades that Billy Garrett has gotten and he's proved himself worthy,” said Leitao. “He's highly skilled. He's highly intelligent and wants to— and — enjoys being coached. So that's been great.”
The former Big East Rookie of the Year has already won an Illinois’ Class 3A boys basketball state title. It's all about making DePaul a winner again that eludes Garrett now. But, again, to know him is to know he's adamant about winning and he'll do whatever it takes for DePaul to get to the next level.
“We want to compete for a Big East title,” said Garrett said. “Our goals haven't changed. It's about working to get there and kind of proving people wrong. We're going to work to get better.”