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Billy Garrett Jr. approaching senior season with all he has

Suffice it to say, senior guard Billy Garrett Jr. has been through a lot in his first three years at DePaul.

While the former four-star recruit has found individual success, team prosperity has been hard to come by.

Garrett won Big East Freshman of the Year in 2013 and has routinely averaged in double figures in points, while usually residing in the top half or the Big East in assists. He enters this season as a pre-season all-Big East second-team member.

Garrett also has three game-winning shots (against Northwestern, Illinois-Chicago and Marquette) under his belt. He also has a state high school championship in his holster.

Yet, in his three years at DePaul, winning has been the one thing elusive to Garrett.

In his last season at DePaul, all Garrett wants to do is to get the Blue Demons moving in the right direction.

“My mindset is to change the perception of DePaul basketball,” Garrett said while at Big East media day.

As a senior, Garrett has seen many teammates come and go and the results have mostly been the same, but he feels there is something different about this year's team.

“Camaraderie wise, we are a lot better and the buy-in is a lot higher,” Garrett said. “The guys are working hard. The guys are playing with each other and for each other. That's something we had trouble with. Guys are buying in defensively and what we need to do to be successful.

“I like what I'm seeing so far,” Garrett added. “It's still early, but at this point I think we have a decent chance (to have a breakthrough season).”

For the better part of two years, Garrett has been the leader of the Blue Demons. Now as a senior, he knows this is his last salvo to leave a lasting legacy.

If DePaul's first exhibition game on Friday against Rockhurst is any indication, Garrett is in mid-season form. Against Rockhurst, Garrett scored 26 points, while going perfect from the free-throw line (14-14).

Garrett is motivated to not let previous struggles define him.

“You don't want to be known as the guy who wasn't able to win,” Garrett said. “That's what I care about most. You know, it's disappointing, but at the end of the day it's understandable (people picking DePaul to finish last in the Big East), being how we finished the last couple of years. They (pre-season rankings) really mean nothing. We'll take that back to our team and we'll use that as motivation to prove everybody wrong and be the spoilers of the Big East.”

While at Big East media day, Garrett also talked about the philosophical shift in how the team will operate this season. With DePaul— for the lack of better words— being a small unit, Garrett said he expects more spacing on the floor with multiple guards and wings on the court. He also anticipates playing multiple positions.

“We're a lot more versatile this year,' Garrett said. “From the guard standpoint, we got a lot of guys that can play the same position. We got a lot of interchangeable parts.

“I'll definitely see some time off the ball, which I have no problem with at all,” Garrett added. “It should be a lot faster offense and (we'll have) a lot more versatility defensively as well because of all the interchangeable parts that we have.”

Garrett echoed what coach Dave Leitao and Eli Cain have already gone on record saying and that is they have to have a group mentality when it comes to rebounding in the light of the team losing Myke Henry, Rashaun Stimage and Tommy Hamilton. 

With the Blue Demons bringing in six newcomers, Garrett has the job of helping ease the transition for the newbies. That said, Garrett likes the new additions.

“Chris (Harrison-Docks) has been doing a really good job understanding what we're trying to do,” Garrett said of one particular standout. “He's a fifth-year guy, so he's been around the block a couple of times. But that's to be expected from Chris.”

“Levi Cook has really impressed me (too),” Garret said about how Cook adds a new dimension to the team. “I've never seen him play. I wasn't really sure what to expect from him. But he has great hands, plays like a big, takes up a lot of space and is a great passer as well. I've been extremely impressed.”

Garrett knows his DePaul career will be over soon. He wants to cement his legacy and help move the program forward.

“We got to change the culture around and get it moving in the right direction,” Garrett added. “Those were my goals coming into DePaul. We got one more year to do that. The last three years haven't been successful as I wanted them to be.”

“The main goal is to have a consistent year and prove everybody wrong,” Garrett said. “I think that's what we’re gonna do.”


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