book review: "getting open" re Bill Garrett

Share information, queries, and research findings. Also a place to announce new books, articles, etc.

book review: "getting open" re Bill Garrett

Postby rlee » Wed Oct 01, 2008 6:41 am

Bill Garrett's story an important tale

By Strings
http://www.frostillustrated.com/full.php?sid=4339#thumb

Being of a certain age, sports in the U.S. has always been something more than just games to me. I came up in a generation where people like Bill Russell, Althea Gibson, Oscar Robertson, Arthur Ashe, Wilma Rudulph, Bob Gibson, Lee Elder, Willie Mays, Muhammed Ali and others were more than just talented athletics. As the spiritual descendents of people like Jackie Robinson, Jack Johnson, Jesse Owens and Joe Louis, they were soldiers on another front in black folks’ battle for racial justice in this nation. As a kid, it made me feel good to be able to cheer for winners, heroes, who looked like my father, my family—and me.

I’m too young to have sat in front of the radio, cheering for Joe Louis when his fights were broadcast on the radio, but I’m old enough to understand that his battles in the ring were more than boxing matches. His victories reminded black folk across the nation of the Creator’s promise that he eventually delivers His people from the yoke of oppression. But, to receive His deliverance, His soldiers must battle with due diligence, righteousness and moral imperative. Given that, those of us who were blessed to be chosen to open doors for others seemed to carry ourselves with a regal, quiet dignity, strength and resolve that couldn’t be broken by the most virulent racists of the times.

There are many heroic names among the annals of black folks who chose sports as the battleground to challenge racism in the U.S. And, if some of them today are regarded as kings and queens of that righteous movement, certainly, former Hoosier high school and college basketball star Bill Garrett must be considered a prince among them. His fascinating story is told in the recently released “Getting Open: The Unknown Story of Bill Garrett and the Integration of College Basketball,” by Tom Graham and Rachel Graham Cody [Indiana University Press ISBN 978-0-253-22046-2.

I’ve prided myself in recent years of being able to say I’m not much of a sports fan—especially given that so many of today’s young stars seem to lack a social consciousness. While they might argue that it’s just a game and that they represent no one but themselves on the field, the fact is a lot of people had to endure often untold suffering so that these spoiled, modern superstars might have a chance to earn money to burn. “Getting Open” puts a lot of that in perspective.

Evidently, many modern stars aren’t aware that by 1951 only three blacks had been drafted in the NBA. Prior to that, the league was all white. And, how could they have missed the story of Jackie Robinson and the fact that it took until 1947 for a black player to enter the modern Major Leagues? And, the story of blacks in pro football is another tale of difficult journeys. You might all know of the Williams sisters and Tiger Woods now, but even 25 years ago, life was extremely difficult for blacks in those sports. If it weren’t for trailblazers like Bill Garrett, it’s certain pro sports would have a much different complexion these days—yes, pun intended.

Garrett’s story is one of the trials and tribulations of black folks in general during the middle of the last century here in the U.S. and particularly in Indiana. Early one, Garrett made history and paved a trail through rough terrain making it easy for others to follow. He was the key figure on the Shelbyville Golden Bears team that won the Indiana high school state basketball title in 1947—an integrated team that for perhaps the first time in the country, included three black starters, Garrett, Marshall Murray and Emerson Johnson.

Despite being named Indiana’s Mr. Basketball that year, being on the state championship team, carrying great grades and being acclaimed as one of the state’s outstanding student athletes with regard to character, Garrett initially was passed over by every Big Ten basketball program. There was a “gentleman’s agreement” at the time that no black would be allowed play basketball in the conference. And, as the authors point out, the Indiana University Hurrying Hoosiers (ironically, that future nickname came about largely because of Garrett) were among those who staunchly honored that agreement. “Getting Open” details the story of how Garrett, with the guidance and support of a number of righteous people, including family, teammates, coaches and community leaders nudged open the door of segregation in Indiana college basketball. While it’s ultimately a tale of triumph, be forewarned that’s it’s not always a pretty story. Coauthors Graham and Cody do not shy away from the racial ugliness of the times here in Indiana and across the nation. Nor do they ignore or attempt to pass over the pain that Garrett and his black colleagues had to endure just to play a little basketball with white children they knew as friends.

“Getting Open” is a spellbinding piece of work that reads like a cross between a good mystery and a topnotch golden age sports radio broadcast. History already has told us the end of the story, but the how and whys are still fascinating. The tale also has its share of heroes, villains and bystanders. Among the heroes, along with Garrett, are coaches Arthur “Doc” Barnett and Frank Barnes, renowned black activist Faburn DeFrantz, IU President Herman B. Wells and Shelbyville’s Nate Kaufman, among others.

The story has its share of villains, too, but read the book yourself to decide who they are. Suffice it to say, even the most casual Indiana sports fan will recognize many of the names in the book—but you might walk away with a very different perspective on some, given details of their behind the scenes roles in this true life drama. The attitudes of former IU Board of Trustees President Ora Wildermuth and the legendary Indiana sports czar Arthur Trester are of note.

In addition to telling the story of Garrett’s integration of college basketball in Indiana, the Graham and Cody do an excellent job placing events in the larger world of U.S. culture. The book also is full of interesting tidbits—like how important an Indiana native was to the integration of baseball. The story of the famed Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis is touched upon too, as well as brief mentions of other luminaries such as Fort Wayne’s own Bobby Milton and the Harlem Globetrotters.

“Getting Open” is an excellent read for sports fans, history buffs or anyone interested in biographies. And, it should be required reading for every young high school athlete on the way to college and every college athlete on the way to the pros—especially African American athletes. With all the scandals plaguing professional sports today, Bill Garrett’s story might inspire a lot of folks—athletes and fans alike—to bring some dignity back to the games.
rlee
President
 
Posts: 6846
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:42 pm
Location: sacramento

Dick Culberson

Postby rlee » Thu Oct 02, 2008 3:37 pm

Here is info re: the Iowa player referenced in this string:

from WHO TV in Des Moines:

Ron Maly: Setting the record straight, Iowa's Dick Culberson was the Big Ten's first black basketball player



A feature story on the front page of the Des Moines Register sports section this week said Bill Garrett of Indiana was the first black basketball player to compete in the Big Ten Conference.There's just one problem.The story was wrong.Dick Culberson of the University of Iowa was the Big Ten's first black basketball player.Culberson lettered for the Hawkeyes in 1945 -- and things were so difficult for the reserve center that, on road trips, he occasionally couldn't stay in the same hotel with his white teammates.On page 182 of Iowa's 2006-2007 basketball media guide, the 1944-45 team is pictured. Among the 17 team members in the photograph is Culberson, who is the fourth player to the right of coach Pops Harrison in the second row."I was a little upset when I saw in the paper that Garrett was called the Big Ten's first black player," Bob Schulz of Clive told me. "He was on our Big Ten championship team in 1944-45, and we've always been proud of the fact that Culberson was the first black player in the Big Ten."Schulz was a freshman guard on that team, and Culberson was a sophomore center. Both played off the bench.The team was one of the best Iowa has ever had. The Hawkeyes won the Big Ten championship with an 11-1 record and finished 17-1 overall."Our only loss was at Illinois, 43-42," Schulz recalled. "We came back to beat Illinois, 43-37, in our final game at Iowa City to win the Big Ten."Unfortunately, there was no postseason tournament for the Hawkeyes, despite their gaudy records."We were never afforded the opportunity to go to Madison Square Garden in New York or anywhere else," Schulz said. "In those days, only eight teams went to the NCAA finals."Our coach refused to go. We had a couple of kids -- Ned Postels and Herb Wilkinson -- who had conflicts. One was in dental school, the other was in engineering, and they couldn't leave. At least that's what Popsy said."Postels was a forward who averaged 6.2 points and Herb Wilkinson was a guard who averaged 9.6. The other starters were center Clayton Wilkinson -- Herb's brother -- who averaged 11.5 points; forward Dick Ives, who averaged 12, and guard Jack Spencer, who averaged 6.1.Schulz said he was the first guard off the bench and freshman Murray Wier was the first forward. Wier averaged 7.8 points, Schulz 1.6. Culberson averaged 2.3."Culberson didn't play very much," Schulz said. "Popsy didn't substitute until late in the game and, unfortunately, Culberson had to play behind Clayton Wilkinson, who was the all-Big Ten center."Schulz said Wilkinson stood 6-5 and Culberson was nearly that tall."Culberson was from Iowa City," Schultz said. "We had a reunion of that 1944-45 team a few years ago, and he was there. He was living near Cleveland then." Schulz's Iowa career was interrupted by military service. He lettered in 1945, 1948, 1949 and 1950. Garrett became a member of Indiana's squad in 1948, and Schulz said he played against him."It was mentioned in the paper that Garrett went through some trials and tribulations when he was at Indiana," Schulz said. "But nothing compared to what Culberson went through."He traveled with us, but when we might stay in one of the nicest hotels Dick would have to find a black person's family to stay with."Schulz was an assistant coach on Bucky O'Connor's Hawkeye staff for three seasons, and by that time Iowa was recruiting plenty of outstanding black players -- McKinley "Deacon" Davis and Carl Cain among them.Football, of course, was a different story."Iowa had blacks playing football long before basketball," Schulz said. "Duke Slater played in the 1920s."Actually, before that. Slater lettered in 1918, 1919, 1920 and 1921.
Last edited by rlee on Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
rlee
President
 
Posts: 6846
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:42 pm
Location: sacramento

Re: book review: "getting open" re Bill Garrett

Postby Jon Scott » Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:20 pm

strings wrote:Bill Garrett's story an important tale

By Strings
http://www.frostillustrated.com/full.php?sid=4339#thumb

. . . And, as the authors point out, the Indiana University Hurrying Hoosiers (ironically, that future nickname came about largely because of Garrett) were among those who staunchly honored that agreement.


I don't think this is entirely accurate. The term "Hurryin' Hoosiers" I believe had been in use since Branch McCracken first started coaching at IU in the late 30's. It probably became very popular and applied to the teams that Garrett was a part of in the early 50's, but I think the claim as it stands is an overstatement.


“Getting Open” details the story of how Garrett, with the guidance and support of a number of righteous people, including family, teammates, coaches and community leaders nudged open the door of segregation in Indiana college basketball. While it’s ultimately a tale of triumph, be forewarned that’s it’s not always a pretty story. Coauthors Graham and Cody do not shy away from the racial ugliness of the times here in Indiana and across the nation. Nor do they ignore or attempt to pass over the pain that Garrett and his black colleagues had to endure just to play a little basketball with white children they knew as friends.

“Getting Open” is a spellbinding piece of work that reads like a cross between a good mystery and a topnotch golden age sports radio broadcast. History already has told us the end of the story, but the how and whys are still fascinating. The tale also has its share of heroes, villains and bystanders. Among the heroes, along with Garrett, are coaches Arthur “Doc” Barnett and Frank Barnes, renowned black activist Faburn DeFrantz, IU President Herman B. Wells and Shelbyville’s Nate Kaufman, among others.

The story has its share of villains, too, but read the book yourself to decide who they are. Suffice it to say, even the most casual Indiana sports fan will recognize many of the names in the book—but you might walk away with a very different perspective on some, given details of their behind the scenes roles in this true life drama. The attitudes of former IU Board of Trustees President Ora Wildermuth and the legendary Indiana sports czar Arthur Trester are of note.


I've always thought that ANY school or institution in America could delve back into their past and find important and compelling stories of the people who broke down racial barriers and the challenges they faced. They could also find many examples of mistakes, wrong-headedness, cruelty, etc.

Many of these stories are important for not only remembrances of the past but in guiding our actions in the future. However, very few institutions have actually done this, or at least have undergone a high degree of scrutiny in this area.

Jon
Jon Scott
 
Posts: 237
Joined: Sun Apr 22, 2007 2:16 am
Location: Philadelphia Area

Hurryin' Hoosiers

Postby rlee » Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:36 pm

Jon Scott wrote:

The term "Hurryin' Hoosiers" I believe had been in use since Branch McCracken first started coaching at IU in the late 30's. It probably became very popular and applied to the teams that Garrett was a part of in the early 50's, but I think the claim as it stands is an overstatement.


Jon,
Bill Tosheff (NBA co-rookie of the year in 1952) who was Bill Garrett's teammate & roomie @ IU tells me that he agrees with you on this point.
rlee
President
 
Posts: 6846
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:42 pm
Location: sacramento

Postby Matthew Maurer » Thu Oct 02, 2008 6:17 pm

The Graham book commendably mentions DeJernett in its AfterWord. Bill Garrett didn't "integrate college basketball in Indiana" -- Big Dave DeJernett did, before proceeding to enjoy an unprecedented stellar pro career that no Afro-American four-year collegiate star matched until......did SweetWater Clifton play four years at Xavier? If not Sweets, who -- Marques Haynes? Bill Russell? All these guys came along way after Big Dave, & Joe Louis knew it


Sweetwater only played one year as did most black players in the 30's and 40's including most whites. The words unprecedented and stellar are amazingly overused when you talk about DeJernett.
NBA Draft Historian
www.thedraftreview.com
Matthew Maurer
 
Posts: 131
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 12:18 am

Book sheds insight on IU basketball, segregation

Postby rlee » Fri Oct 03, 2008 10:54 am

Indiana Daily Student - IDSnews.com
Book sheds insight on IU basketball, segregation
By Rorye O'Connor


Hoosiers, particularly basketball fans, might think they know everything behind the history of IU’s heralded basketball team. However, there’s one book Hoosiers should consider adding to their reading list.

“Getting Open: The Unknown Story of Bill Garrett and the Integration of College Basketball,” by Tom Graham and Rachel Graham Cody, is a well-researched and insightful look into the serious issue of unspoken rules of segregation in Indiana and what it took to break down the walls for talented basketball players such as Garrett.

Garrett’s story begins in Shelbyville, Ind., a town about 40 miles southeast of Indianapolis, where he attended Booker T. Washington Elementary School, a segregated school that had been condemned for a period of time before he was born.

Garrett was born in 1929 and grew up amidst unspoken Midwestern rules of segregation.

Garrett made his way to Shelbyville High School and onto the varsity basketball team, along with several other black students. Shelbyville coach Frank Barnes created controversy among Indiana’s rabidly enthusiastic basketball fans by being the first coach to have three black starters on his team.

Garrett and his teammates rose above the controversy, all the way to the 1947 state basketball championship.

Garrett became a beacon of inspiration for black leaders in Indiana, including Faburn DeFrantz, the executive director of an Indianapolis YMCA.

DeFrantz drove to Bloomington to plead with IU president Herman B Wells and basketball coach Branch McCracken. DeFrantz and others knew Garrett was more than good enough to be on the IU team, and they saw his reserved talent as a means of getting integration to IU basketball, despite the Big Ten’s unspoken “gentleman’s agreement” not to add black players to their teams.

Other smaller colleges throughout Indiana, for example Anderson College to the north, had integrated their basketball teams already. IU’s football team had black members.

Wells and McCracken knew, however, that with the popularity of basketball in Indiana and the funding the University received through the state, they had to step lightly to avoid a huge backslide.

This book deftly points out the inconsistencies in northern race relations. The authors highlight how segregation was an unspoken part of life for people in Indiana – from the banning of blacks at Shelbyville youth clubs to the controversies that arose during the officiating of high school games.

The depth of research for the book – seven years’ worth, Graham said – is an undeniable asset. Readers might be especially interested to learn the opinions and stances of IU leaders of the time, including controversial opinions of IU trustee Ora L. Wildermuth, after whom the gym in the Health, Physical Education, and Recreation building is named.

In April 2007, IDS columnist Andrew Shaffer published a column criticizing the fact that the HPER gym is named after someone who adamantly stood against the integration of IU. Memos in the IU archives from Wildermuth show his reasons for keeping the races separate were based on his belief that mixing of the races would lead to miscegenation.

If there’s a weakness to “Getting Open,” it’s an emphasis on Garrett’s early years in Shelbyville. The book doesn’t begin to discuss race issues at the university level until almost 100 pages into the book, which is only about 200 pages altogether, minus notes.

The whole story is engaging and rich in detail, but readers might begin to wonder when they’re going to hear about IU.

“Getting Open” might be a book with roots in local history, but it provides a broad scope of the times shortly before the Civil Rights Movement.

Graham describes the book as a picture of race relations through basketball, rather than just a basketball story.

“Getting Open” doesn’t end like a feel-good sports movie with a 3-pointer at the last second, but it is a fascinating look into Midwestern history that any Hoosier – born in Indiana or not – should enjoy.

Tom Graham, author of “Getting Open: The Unknown Story of Bill Garrett and the Integration of College Basketball,” was in Bloomington on Thursday to speak about his book. He had a one-on-one interview with the Indiana Daily Student before arriving in town.
Graham was born in Shelbyville, Ind., in 1943. He was surrounded by enthusiastic Shelbyville basketball fans and was strongly affected by the immersion into the culture of basketball fanaticism. Graham has worked for law firms in Washington, D.C., as well as abroad, but has always wanted to write the story of Bill Garrett and the 1947 state basketball championship.

IDS: Tell me a little bit about how Bill Garrett became your obsession.
Graham: I was 4 years old in 1947 when Shelbyville won the state
championship, and my father and my family had season tickets. To a 4-year-old, Shelbyville High School basketball was the biggest thing in the world. I’ve often said, semi-jokingly, that Shelbyville’s winning the state championship in 1947, in my mind, was equivalent to winning World War II. It’s difficult to overstate the impact that had on me as a small child. People didn’t talk about it, but they were proud of the fact that this team that had been derided as the “Black Bears” won the state championship. It never left me, really. I mean, I went far beyond Shelbyville, but increasingly I would ask myself, “What would I really like to do, if I could do whatever I wanted to?” And the answer was always, “I would like to write that story.”

IDS: How does it feel to have a finished product of your obsession?
Graham: It feels wonderful. It wouldn’t have mattered if we had only sold very few books. It wasn’t about that. It was about the story, and it really was a life-changing experience to go back to Shelbyville and have black people thank us for having given a voice to what they went through. And to have whites say, “I was so oblivious to it.” It really is an extraordinary source of satisfaction.

IDS: What was it like to work with your daughter on “Getting Open?”
Graham: It was a tremendous experience. It wasn’t all easy, because we had to learn to work together as colleagues instead of as father and daughter, so it had its strains and moments as might be expected. But by and large, it was just a tremendous experience for both of us.

IDS: What were the biggest challenges for you in writing this book?
Graham: Time, for one. I was working full time during most of it. We wrote it over seven years from 1998 to the end of 2005. I was practicing law in Washington at the time. The fact that some of the key people were no longer alive – it would have been really nice to talk to Frank Barnes, for example. Rachel did, on that point, track down Faburn DeFrantz’s son in Indianapolis who had an unpublished autobiography. He wouldn’t let it out of his house, but he let Rachel sit for four or five days in his kitchen, making notes on it.

IDS: What do you want people to take from this book?
Graham: We very much did not want it to be seen as a basketball book. We saw it at least equal to basketball as a story of race relations of the time and a story of local history. But on the race relations, the kind that we described in the book, the kind that existed in Shelbyville and towns like it all the way across the northern United States, small towns especially, have been very little recognized. There was segregation in the south, which was by law and in-your-face, and then there was the kind that was in the big cities, where blacks lived just in separate areas. There was a third kind, which was the kind in Shelbyville and all across the country, that blacks and whites lived together essentially and intermingled every day, but lived entirely separate lives, and nobody acknowledged that towns were segregated.

IDS: Do you believe Garrett was the “perfect man” for integrating college basketball?
Graham: Yes, I actually do. I mean, as we sort of say in the book, he had the qualities that were needed at the time, which was this sort of quiet competence and the ability to take it without reacting. That was what was needed, because if the person had been a hothead, or less able to withstand the taunting and the things that Garrett had to take, it might have risked setting the whole thing back a number of years because it was the way the times were.
rlee
President
 
Posts: 6846
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:42 pm
Location: sacramento

Billy Garrett

Postby rlee » Tue Jun 01, 2010 3:50 am

DePaul's Garrett dreams of Final Four

By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com


Most kids can't wait to play in the students-versus-teachers basketball game in junior high school. It's their one chance to embarrass their teachers without repercussion.


Billy Garrett could easily have done that. Garrett, a former wide receiver at Illinois State, had the athletic ability as a youngster to give his teachers a lesson or two on the court.

Instead, Garrett opted to pull out a clipboard and coach his fellow seventh-graders from the sideline. It was where Garrett felt he could best serve.

It's no different than the way he feels today as a DePaul assistant coach.

The son of a legendary Indiana high school basketball coach, Garrett has never imagined doing anything with his life other than coaching. And while he would have continued somewhere else if newly hired Blue Demons coach Oliver Purnell had decided to go in a different direction with his staff, Garrett is grateful he was retained and still gets to do what he loves in the city he loves.

"Was it a relief? Yeah, I was happy," said Garrett, who originally was hired before last season by former DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright. "You know what? I kept working like I had a job. That's what I did. I just worked.

"Oliver Purnell is a real smart man, real intelligent. There wasn't going to be one thing I could do to prove myself. He was going to go through it due diligently. He was going to ask people about me and judge me."

Purnell did just that.

He asked around about Garrett. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi coach Perry Clark, a friend of Purnell's, had Garrett on his staff for two seasons and raved about him.

Purnell also looked into Garrett's background. He learned that Garrett, an Indianapolis native, coached at Providence St. Mel High School in Chicago and turned it into one of the area's most successful programs. Garrett went 130-50 and won four regional titles in six seasons.

Garrett's ties to Chicago were also appealing to Purnell. While Garrett might have moved out of Chicago when he took his first college assistant job with Siena in 2000, he never stopped recruiting from the city. O'Hare Airport and the Dan Ryan Expressway have been regular locations for him whether he's been an assistant at Siena, Seton Hall, Iowa, New Mexico or Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

"Everybody I talked to in Chicago either raved about him or talked about him," Purnell said. "It was unsolicited, and people would talk about Billy. It was obvious to me that he's very much a part of Chicago. That was very important. I wanted a Chicago influence."


Finally, it was Garrett's work ethic that convinced Purnell he was the right man for his staff.

"When I got to the office, he was there," Purnell said. "When I left the office, he was there. He was constantly on the phone and running me around. We were together 12-14 hours for the first couple of days, and he sort of grew on me.

"Experience and know-how is important, and you couple that with energy and work ethic and someone who is a really good person, then you have someone. I think that's what we have in Billy Garrett."

Garrett's love for basketball and coaching began with his father, Bill Garrett. After winning Indiana's Mr. Basketball award at Shelbyville High School in 1947, Bill Garrett was recruited by Indiana University and became the Big Ten's second African-American player. He earned All-American honors there, was drafted by the Boston Celtics and eventually played for the Harlem Globetrotters. After his playing career, he coached at Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis for 10 years and led it to a state championship in 1959. Shelbyville High School's gym has been named in his honor.

Bill Garrett died of a heart attack in 1974 at the age of 45. Billy Garrett was 9 years old at the time.

"I have always wanted to be a college coach, probably because my dad was a coach," said Garrett, whose own son, Billy Garrett Jr., started as a freshman at Morgan Park High School this past season. "Trying to be like my dad inspired me to be a coach. I remember him teaching me how to play. So many people would tell me stories about him."

Garrett's own coaching career began moving forward when he moved to Chicago while working for a youth Christian organization in 1991. During his spare time, he began helping out at Near North High School as an assistant basketball coach. He later became a coach at Hales Franciscan and then was hired to take over Providence St. Mel's program.

Providence St. Mel's success and its talented players led to Garrett being introduced to Mac Irvin, who ran the Mac Irvin Fire, one of the country's top AAU programs. Irvin took Garrett under his wing and gave him a position with the Fire.

"Mac was just good to me," Garrett said. "I've had a few people in my life who have been like surrogate fathers. God put people in my life. He gave me advice. I learned a lot."

Irvin is proud to see where Garrett has progressed as a coach.

"He's at an excellent point in his career," Irvin said. "I think he's moving at a good pace. He's learning more and more. He's always been involved in things in Chicago. He's always been a nice guy, but a tough guy, too. He knows how to deal with people, talk to kids and relate to them. That's the key. I'm proud of him. That's all I can say. I'm very proud of him and what he's accomplished."

Garrett's reputation as a college coach has been built on his ability to recruit. It's why he was initially hired at DePaul. Wainwright cleaned out his staff at the end of the 2008-09 season and brought on Tracy Webster and Garrett, two well-known Chicago-area recruiters.

Garrett has recruited his share of Chicago players over the years. He brought Kelly Whitney from Marshall High School, Carl Marshall from Crane High School, Justin Cerasoli from West Aurora High School and others to Seton Hall. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is still stacked with Chicago players, thanks to him.

"Chicago has been good to me," Garrett said. "Wherever I've gone, it's been good to me. Chicago kids are tough. But once you get them on your side, they'll run through a brick wall for you. They're tough, talented and they're not afraid.

"To me, it all goes back to relationships. Recruiting is relationships. High school coaches here, more than anywhere else, are surrogate fathers to their players. When you take an interest in a kid as a coach and you send him away to school, when you put your head down on the pillow at night, you want to know he's OK."

The area's top coaches and players haven't looked at DePaul in that light for some time. DePaul's last breakthrough into the city and suburbs came late in the 1990s and early in the 2000s when Quentin Richardson, Bobby Simmons, Lance Williams, Paul McPherson, Steven Hunter and Imari Sawyer all decided to play for the Blue Demons.

With DePaul's past two coaches, Dave Leitao and Wainwright, Chicago-area high school and AAU coaches felt their relationship with the Blue Demons became fractured. When Purnell was announced to replace Wainwright, area coaches didn't feel any better about the situation. They reacted negatively, as Purnell, who was an unknown to most of them, wasn't perceived as the one who could repair those relationships.

Part of Garrett's job in the past few months has been getting Purnell's foot in the door with the area's top coaches and helping create new bonds.

"I don't think they were questioning what he's done as a basketball coach," Garrett said. "I think they didn't know him. All these guys, when they meet Oliver, they'll like him. It's just a matter of knowing him. I may be the guy who initially facilitates that because I have a relationship with these guys already. But in time, they'll have a relationship with all of DePaul's coaches, not just me.

"We've just got to wrap our hands around the city and reach out from there to the suburbs and the state. I think it's going to come down initially just to the relationships that are built and the trusts that are built."

Hyde Park High School coach Donnie Kirksey, a former DePaul assistant under Pat Kennedy, is confident that Garrett can achieve that.

"Billy Garrett is a guy who is young enough, personal enough and is going to work hard enough to get it done," Kirksey said. "He's the bridge to patch up DePaul and get it back to being better. He's a good guy."

Garrett has already begun producing on the recruiting trail. He was one of the main reasons high-flying Crete-Monee junior forward Jamie Crockett and senior forward Cleveland Melvin, who was previously committed to Connecticut, recently decided on DePaul.

"I just liked that he was outgoing," Crockett said. "He was easy to talk to. He was big in my decision to come to DePaul. He made me feel really more comfortable."

Garrett understands those recruits have to be just the start. For DePaul to return to glory, it needs to begin stockpiling such players, and Garrett is up for the challenge.

"I'm trying to go to the Final Four," Garrett said. "That's what I'm trying to do. I want to play in the Final Four. I think we can do that."
rlee
President
 
Posts: 6846
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:42 pm
Location: sacramento

Bill Garrett

Postby rlee » Wed Apr 05, 2017 4:04 pm

rlee
President
 
Posts: 6846
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:42 pm
Location: sacramento


Return to Biographical Research and Publications

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

cron