He Will, He Won't, He Might 2018: Marcus Garrett
Just like that, we’re out of the junior class and moving into the sophomore ranks and what better place to start than with one of KU’s best all-around players.
On most teams and during most seasons, sophomore guard Marcus Garrett probably would have played half of the minutes he played as a true freshman a season ago.
Consider these minutes-played numbers from recent KU guards during their freshman seasons:
Frank Mason III – 567
Devonte’ Graham – 506
Svi Mykhailiuk – 291
Brannen Greene – 184
Garrett, at 748, played more minutes than all of them because the Jayhawks were saddled with limited depth and Garrett’s game and maturity put him in a position to be counted on sooner than later.
You might recall that Garrett actually started in his first ever Kansas game, replacing Malik Newman in the projected lineup on opening night last season.
From there, the Dallas native appeared in all 39 KU games, starting seven and averaging 19.2 minutes per outing. Not bad for a true freshman who came to a program loaded at his position.
Because of that lack of depth, and because KU played at such a high level and advanced so far last season, Garrett played in some pretty intense moments, which should pay off this year and beyond.
It’s almost as if last season was worth two freshman years for Garrett and the 6-foot-5 guard is entering his sophomore year with the experience of a junior.
He Will – Be the team’s best defender
If he takes some major strides forward, a case could be made that this honor will go to Udoka Azubuike for his ability to police the paint. But that’s a pretty big “if” and even if it happens, Garrett is still poised to be this team’s most important defensive player.
Unafraid of any challenge and willing to guard whomever the team needs, big or small, Garrett has a real chance to emerge as a lockdown defender whose length, quickness, athleticism and intelligence all make life better for him and a nightmare for opponents.
The fact that KU is loaded with depth on the perimeter only makes it more likely that Garrett, from Day 1, will be willing to crowd opponents and get after them all over the floor.
He Won’t – Take as many 3-pointers as he did as a freshman
It got to the point last season when teams were daring Garrett to shoot from the outside, playing on his lack of confidence in the jumper and doing everything they can to avoid watching Devonte’ Graham, Malik Newman, Svi Mykhailiuk or Lagerald Vick pull the trigger.
This year, with a revamped shot that remains a work in progress, the guess here is that Garrett will actually shoot fewer than the 45 3-pointers he attempted in 2017-18.
It’s not that 45 is that many. Heck, it’s barely one a game. But there were so many moments last year where — because of the way KU played and because he was left so wide open — Garrett felt like he had to shoot it. This year, I don’t think that will be the case nearly as often.
For one, Garrett almost always will have at least one option to look at down low before even thinking about shooting the ball. For two, I think Garrett’s point guard instincts and increased confidence will inspire him much more often to find the right place to go with the ball or to attack the rim.
Beyond that, as alluded to above, I think he’ll play about the same number of minutes this season as he did a year ago, somewhat limiting the chances to pull up from 3 too often.
I don’t think it’ll be by a bunch. But I think he’ll make more and shoot fewer. Let’s call it 14 for 37, which would put him close to 40 percent for the season and raise his career 3-point percentage by five points.
He Might – Be the team’s best option at attacking the rim
Because he played a supporting role last season, and because he was a freshman trying to both fit into a veteran team and adjust to the college game, a lot of people have painted Garrett as a decent player but nothing special.
To those people, I say think back to his dunk at Texas Tech, when he attacked the lane, rose high and did his best Josh Jackson impersonation to finish the play.
Garrett has that kind of game and the guess here is that he’ll be able to show more of it this season.
His handles are good enough to get by just about anybody and his athleticism and competitiveness make him tough enough to finish in the paint. He also has a fair amount of creativity to his game, which, coupled with his toughness, should make for a fun year.
He Will, He Won't, He Might 2018: