Kansas freshman Issac McBride quickly answered “everybody,” when asked which individual Jayhawks basketball player has surprised him the most in practices and pick-up games so far this summer.
After a short pause during last week’s Bill Self hoops camp, the 6-foot-1 newcomer from Little Rock, Arkansas, was able to identify somebody whose skills are better than he expected.
“Marcus Garrett … that guy is crazy,” McBride said of Garrett, a 6-5 junior combo guard from Dallas. “People don’t understand how offensively talented he is. He is a guy that has a quick crossover, can step back, hit jumpers. He’s working on his game. You can tell he works like a pro. I wouldn’t be surprised he sneaks on the draft boards sooner or later.”
KU coach Self also praised Garrett — electing to talk about Garrett’s defense — when introducing him to several hundred campers before a workout.
“Marcus Garrett is the best defensive player in the Big 12. He proved that by guarding 1 through 5 for us (in 2018-19),” Self said. “He guarded great players at all those positions.”
Garrett’s defense alone figures to make him a key rotation player again this season after a sophomore campaign in which he averaged 7.3 points and 1.9 assists in 27.9 minutes a game.
He hit 81 of 192 shots for 42.2%. He was 12 of 49 from three for 24.5% and just 44 of 75 from the line for 58.7%.
“Perimeter shooting,” Garrett said quickly, asked what he’s working on the most during the month of June. “He (Self) tells me if I work on that that I can be very dangerous.
“I think it’s more about getting them (threes) up in the game. Coach was saying some games I take two (three-pointers), some games I wouldn’t shoot, some games I take three. That’s the big thing. He said, ‘No matter how much you work on them if you never take them in a game, they can never go in.’”
Garrett acknowledges that last season he sometimes deferred to KU’s more prolific scorers. This season’s perimeter group will consist of Garrett, Devon Dotson, Ochai Agbaji, plus newcomers Isaiah Moss, McBride, Christian Braun, Jalen Wilson and Tristan Enaruna.
“(I was) just trying to get the best shot available. Even if I was open, it might have been early in the clock, something like that,” Garrett said of turning down some shots last season.
He knows the 6-foot-2 Dotson and 6-5 Agbaji are capable of scoring and hitting threes. Dotson averaged 12.3 points on 36.3% three-point shooting (33 of 91) and Agbaji 8.5 points on 30.7% three-point marksmanship (23 of 75) in 2018-19.
“I feel with Issac coming in, he’s a great shooter. Devon showed he’s capable of knocking down shots last year; Ochai did too,” Garrett said. “I can take on that role. I feel I can take on that role.”
Asked to comment on some of the freshmen, he noted: “Tristan has great length (at 6-foot-8) … passing, being that big and being able to make plays for others. Christian (6-6) is a big guard that can handle the ball, shoot, get in the paint. He just knows how to play. Mackey (McBride) … his shooting ability. I feel he can get his shot off on almost anybody. He has a quick release, jumps high.”
Of walk-on Michael Jankovich, who also hails from Texas, Garrett noted: “I’ve been knowing him since high school. We played in the same district in high school. I played him like eight times since he was in high school. He’s a great shooter, quick release. He showcased it the other day. He has the ability to hit tough jump shots.”
Garrett figures he’ll show improvement as he continues to heal from a high ankle sprain that had him less than 100% the final nine games of the season. He missed five straight games in the conference season (Jan. 30 to Feb. 22) because of the sprain that never fully healed.
“I couldn’t jump. I basically could run and slide. As far as jumping for rebounds, I couldn’t do it,” Garrett said. “Just watching myself get better in games was impressive to me. I feel great now,” he added, noting he rested the ankle the entire month of April and the first 10 days of May. He said a goal this summer was to continue treatments as be 100 percent during the upcoming campaign.
Garrett needs total mobility to play his best defense, he said. He believes a key to the upcoming season is team ‘D.’
A year ago, KU ranked eighth in the 10-team league in scoring defense (70.1 points per game), third in field goal percentage defense (40.8%) and fifth in three-point field goal defense (33.6%). In league only games, KU ranked fifth in scoring defense (70.3 points), second in field goal percentage defense (41.5%) and sixth in three-point field goal percentage defense (35.5%).
“I think we can be great this year,” Garrett said. “With our frontcourt being Doke (Udoka Azubuike), Silvio (De Sousa), David (McCormack) I feel we are big up front. We’ve got long, lengthy guards. I feel if we can play defense, we can beat anybody.”
Robinson, Garcia offered by KU
Khalen “KK” Robinson, a 6-0 senior-to-be point guard from Bryant High in Little Rock, Arkansas, has received a scholarship offer from KU, he reported Sunday on Twitter.
Robinson has received offers from KU, Arkansas, Iowa State, Florida, TCU, Illinois and others. He’s the No. 77-ranked player in the recruiting Class of 2020 by Rivals.com.
Dawson Garcia, a 6-10, 200-pound senior-to-be power forward from Prior Lake High in Savage, Minnesota, was offered a scholarship by KU on Monday, Garcia reported on Twitter. He is considering KU, Iowa, Indiana, Marquette, Minnesota, Texas Tech and many others. He’s ranked No. 38 in the recruiting Class of 2020 by Rivals.com.