A bit smaller than the prototypical college basketball power forward, Marcus Garrett has embraced playing the 4-spot on occasion for Kansas this preseason.
“I am like, ‘Any way I can get on the court,’ ” Garrett, KU’s versatile 6-foot-5, 180-pound freshman from Dallas Skyline High School said of his willingness to play not only his natural point guard position, but shooting guard, small forward and, yes, power forward for the Jayhawks.
“Growing up I always played a lot of center and post,” he added. “Even in high school I was one of the tallest players on my team. It’s always easy to go against the best or biggest player on the team.”
Garrett, who has combined for 11 points and nine rebounds in KU’s first two exhibition games against Missouri and Pittsburg State, figures to play some minutes in the frontcourt again Tuesday in KU’s exhibition finale versus Fort Hays State. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse with a live broadcast on Spectrum Sports KC/ESPN3.
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“We are going to play him everywhere between the 1 and 4 this year. He is extremely tough. He can really guard. He will impact our team in a big way — 15 to 20 minutes a game probably,” said KU coach Bill Self, who played Garrett a team-leading 30 minutes last Tuesday in an 100-54 victory over Pitt State.
Garrett started the second half in that contest.
“I don’t know if he’ll have an impact that he’s going to be a prolific scorer or anything like that early in his career. He’s so tough he will have a chance to play a lot,” Self added.
Garrett, who averaged 17.3 points, 10.4 rebounds and 9.1 assists per game his senior year of high school, is not thinking about being a prolific point producer right now.
“I believe we have enough scorers,” Garrett said. “We need people able to do the little things.”
“Being active and able to defend,” Garrett said.
Garrett showed signs of being able to not only score but also hit the glass during KU’s four-game exhibition tour of Italy in August. He grabbed 12 rebounds and scored 10 points during the second game of the trip. At the time, one of KU’s coaches remarked that Garrett takes “no days off” — meaning he works hard at practice every single day.
“I learned that from my high school coach,” Garrett said. “He always tells me to play hard no matter what. He said you can’t have a bad day if you have effort, so I try to come out every day with a lot of effort and energy, just play hard and through mistakes.”
Self said the coaching that Garrett received from Skyline coach Paul Graham has been important to Garrett’s quick adjustment to college ball. Self worked with Graham on the coaching staff at Oklahoma State in the 1990s.
“Paul was an assistant at New Mexico, SMU and Oklahoma State with coach (Eddie) Sutton, then was head coach at Washington State,” Self stated of Graham. “For a young kid, he (Garrett) has had his (behind) chewed (by Graham). There’s nothing I could say he (Garrett) hasn’t already heard (from Graham). He knows how to play the right way.”
Garrett has also picked up tips by watching tape of former KU wing Josh Jackson, who at 6-foot-8 played some 4 last season.
“I watched every game last year. I saw how he was able to rebound, defend and score. I liked the way he played last year at the 4-position,” Garrett said. “I looked up to Josh. He is one of my favorite players. I try to emulate his game a lot, especially on the defensive end and how he competed.”
Like Jackson … “I am playing bigger post men than what I am. I have to use my quickness to beat them,” Garrett said.
▪ Self said he’d probably use the same starting lineup as he did in exhibition games against Missouri and Pitt State: Udoka Azubuike, Lagerald Vick, Devonté Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk and Malik Newman.
▪ Self said freshman Billy Preston has not missed any practice time after getting hit in the head early in the second half of the Pitt State game. Preston did not return to that game.
▪ Fort Hays State was picked to finish seventh (of 14 teams) in the MIAA in a poll of league coaches.
▪ Fort Hays State has nobody taller than 6-7 on its roster. The Tigers have 10 Kansans on the roster.
▪ KU will open the regular season on Friday at home versus Tennessee State in an 8 p.m. tipoff.