USA Today

Father's impact on Garrett Jr.’s achievement at the free-throw line

Throughout his three-plus years in a Blue Demon uniform, Billy Garrett Jr. has stepped onto the court with seventh-year assistant coach and father Billy Garrett Sr. around two hours before each game tips off. Although it’s not meant for father-son bonding time, Garrett Jr. practices his shot while his dad retrieves the ball for him.

Amid his regimen, the 6-foot-6, 230-pound guard steps to the free-throw line, where he would eventually turn that spot into his sanctuary. In Wednesday’s 76-73 loss to the Georgetown Hoyas, Garrett Jr. passed Stephen Howard, who played at DePaul from 1988-92, for the most free throws made (529) in program history.

"It's an honor to have a record at DePaul University, (which has) such a storied basketball history," Garrett Jr. said. "It's just a result of the hard work, and everyone who has helped me along the way."

Shortly after the final buzzer sounded, Garrett Sr. was told about his son’s tremendous accomplishment. For a few moments, the father-turned-coach just smiled, as he remembered the now-senior’s journey to this stage. But his own path aided Garrett Jr.’s success, too.

Prior to his coaching career, Garrett Sr. played football at Illinois State University. Three years later, he handled much larger responsibilities, serving as the athletic director, basketball coach and track and field coach at Providence St. Mel High School. From 1994-2000, he led the Knights to four regional basketball titles, along with winning District Coach of the Year four times.

Following those duties, Garrett Sr. shifted over to the collegiate ranks, spending time at Siena (2000-01), where he helped attain a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship, Seton Hall (2001-06), Iowa (2006-07) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (2007-09).

When Garrett Jr. turned six years old, his father began educating him on his beloved sport. He says he preached for his son to implement a repetitive pattern at the free-throw line, as well as to keep calm, especially in an intense moment of game.

“He (now) shoots it better than I do,” Garrett Sr. laughed. “There were some things I taught him, and then he added his routine.”

Once Garrett Jr. receives the ball at free-throw line, he dribbles it three times, spins it, takes a deep breath and releases the ball in a constant motion. Those consistent tactics have helped him boost his free-throw clip more than eight percent from his junior campaign. Currently, Garrett Jr. even ranks No. 12 in free-throw percentage (90.5) among Division I participants.

Considering Garrett Sr. says he didn’t expect his son to break any records at DePaul, Garrett Jr. has evidently reached an unforeseen level of focus.  

"I can hear the silence beneath the floor (while at free-throw line)," Garrett Sr. recalled his son saying earlier this season.

Barring a miracle in the Big East tournament, Garrett Jr.’s career at DePaul will wrap up in mid-March. Hence, the team must find a way to replace one of its core leaders.

“His discipline is the biggest thing that he has as an individual,” coach Dave Leitao said. “There's not gonna ever be another Billy Garrett (Jr.), in terms of what his legacy will mean to DePaul basketball.”

More importantly, though, the program may never produce another dynamic, father-son combination, like the Garretts. 

We Are DePaul Top Stories