Kansas sophomore combo guard Marcus Garrett says he spent the month of June working on all aspects of his game, with extra emphasis on his outside shot.
“I actually changed how I shoot the ball,” said Garrett, a 6-foot-5, 180-pound graduate of Dallas Skyline High.
He reworked his shot at the conclusion of the 2017-18 season and continued tinkering with it through the Jayhawks' first session of summer school (June 5-25).
“I’ve worked on getting the right spin on the ball. I used to have top-spin; now I have front-spin. It feels better when I shoot it,” Garrett said during a recent interview at Brett Ballard’s Washburn University hoops camp at Lee Arena in Topeka.
Garrett, a regular member of KU’s rotation as a freshman, averaged 4.1 points (45.6 percent shooting) and 3.4 rebounds a game last season.
He hit 12 of 45 three-pointers, or 26.7 percent, and 25 of 51 free throws (49 percent).
“My uncle is the one who noticed (improper form)," Garrett said. "Coach T (Kurtis Townsend) had me place my hand on the ball differently now.
"We worked on it as soon as the season was over. I was going to change it before, but it was the middle of the season. I had seen the spin. Coach T showed me how to get the right spin. I feel comfortable now. It’s been changed now. It feels good."
Garrett has been launching “close to 600 shots a day,” Townsend said. “It (the shot) is still a work in progress. He’s definitely shooting better than he did last year, with more confidence. I wouldn’t be ready to say he’ll be a 36 percent three-point shooter yet. He could get there by November."
Garrett had 44 assists to 30 turnovers with 35 steals while averaging 19.2 minutes in 39 games for the Jayhawks (31-8) last season. He said he’s more confident entering his sophomore season.
“I’m being more aggressive," he said. "I feel I can help the team a lot more on the offensive end. I’m going to go out with a different mindset about being aggressive while having the same defensive mindset I had as a freshman. I feel like I’m shooting the ball better (and) my leadership is better. I just feel I’ve grown a lot as a player going through the ups and downs of a season."
Garrett will be part of a deep group of perimeter players for KU this season. The group consists of Garrett, Quentin Grimes, Lagerald Vick, Charlie Moore, Devon Dotson, Sam Cunliffe, K.J. Lawson and Ochai Agbaji.
Of the 6-5, 205-pound Grimes, the MVP of the recent FIBA Americas Under-18 Championship in Canada, Garrett said: “I know him well. I’ve played against him. We’ve been knowing each other a while.”
Grimes hails from College Park High in The Woodlands, Texas.
“He’s a combo, an athletic wing who can shoot, drive, pass. He can do it all,” Garrett said of the freshman.
Of Dotson, a 6-2, 185-pound freshman from Providence Day School in Charlotte, N.C., Garrett said: “He’s really fast. He can get to the rim.”
Garrett figures to battle for a starting spot this season after starting seven of 39 contests a year ago.
“I think it would help anybody knowing you can be a spark on the defensive end,” Garrett said.
KU coach Bill Self is known for awarding minutes to players who stop the opponent from scoring. And Self gave Garrett high marks for defense his rookie season.
“Marcus does a lot of little things to give a team a chance, especially defensively,” Self said. “He can keep the ball in front of him. From an energy standpoint, he provides as much as anybody. We have to give our team the best chance. He’s a confident kid. He likes to compete. He is a little bit nasty, a tough kid with a chance to be very good.”
Garrett, who like the rest of the Jayhawks will attend the second session of summer school July 5-27, says the squad needs this time together. KU lost guards Devonté Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk and Malik Newman off last year’s Final Four squad.
“Of course,” Garrett said when asked if he misses his teammates. “The relationship I built with them, especially with Devonté ... I’m really close to Devonté. I’ll miss him being around, learning from being around him every day. Hopefully I can help some people like he helped me.”