Making the Right Moves

Dec. 14, 2011

Written by Alex Berryman, Kansas media relations student assistant

Redshirt freshman guard Christian Garrett knows that to be a part of the Jayhawk legacy, it takes hard work, extreme patience, teamwork and full dedication.

He also knows it takes a great deal of sacrifice and faith. Sometimes even leaps of faith are required, which he took during his senior year of high school when Garrett chose to move across the country for basketball.

“Changing schools and moving away to Florida, you miss out on a lot of stuff, like prom and even graduation,” Garrett said. “At the same time, when you’re really committed to something and you already know what you’re doing, it’s a lot easier to do. Especially for me, with my faith in God, it’s really been easy to miss out on certain things because I know what I’m doing.”

His level of commitment became evident in Garrett’s life when he took that love for basketball and moved from his high school in Tarzana, Calif., to finish the final year of his high school career at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

Such a drastic transition would cause many high schoolers to shudder, but the 2,500-mile move only did what Garrett wanted it to: made him better at basketball. In his senior season at IMG, the 6-foot-3 guard averaged 14 points, 7.0 assists and 6.3 rebounds per game.

His focus never wavered. All the hard work and sacrifice was for the bigger picture of collegiate basketball. Garrett explained that the years of moving around and being at IMG Academy helped him prepare for college life.

“Obviously being away, working out twice a day, not eating at home anymore, walking to class and everything like that really helped me out a lot,” said Garrett. “At the same time, nothing can really prepare you for college. When I got here, I still had no idea what was going on.”

Garrett also said that the idea of wearing Crimson and Blue didn’t dawn on him until shortly before he moved to Lawrence.

“I didn’t really know much about it at all,” admitted Garrett. “A couple of months before (deciding to play at Kansas), I started watching Kansas games a lot, but growing up I didn’t know much about it.”

Garrett quickly grew into the KU culture after moving to Lawrence in February 2010 with his mother, Cynthia. Although he redshirted during the Jayhawks’ 2010-11 season, he was exposed to the Jayhawk atmosphere head-on.

“The tradition and the fans here are like none other,” Garrett exclaimed. “The people in Lawrence are a lot nicer than California, probably because it’s a college town, but the environment is a lot cooler to be around.”

As Garrett is quickly finding out, that environment stretches throughout the nation. Jayhawk fans of every kind wait for the team to play in a city near them, as well as the fans who make the trip from Lawrence; attention Garrett never truly experienced in his high school days.

“When we got to the hotel in New York, there were already people there for us,” Garrett said about KU’s recent trip to Madison Square Garden for the Champions Classic. “The college level is really different. As a player, there’s a lot more you have to do on the court, and also off the court, because people are always watching. People really look up to the basketball team.”

As quickly as the Jayhawk nation took to him, Garrett took just as quickly to the team. He confessed that even though he already feels like a part of the Jayhawk squad, he isn’t exempt from freshman pranks.

“Obviously, there’s the tradition where you have to carry more stuff and clean up after people and stuff like that,” Garrett said. “None of it’s bad, but the worst part is dealing with the coaches and players giving you a hard time, but it’s always making you tougher.”

Showing his extra year of maturity, Garrett knows that tough love makes the team stronger and values the connection he has with the team now.

“Overall, I like the way the coaching staff is with the team and how we’re a family,” Garrett admitted. “We work so hard, harder than any team in the country, but at the same time we’re able to just have fun and laugh and deal with stuff on a real level. I really appreciate that.”

Even as well traveled as Garrett has become throughout his basketball career, he admits that there are still things to learn, especially from senior guard Tyshawn Taylor.”We’re all one big family,” Garrett said. “We all play as a team and we all try to learn from each other. I try to learn as much as I can from Tyshawn and from everybody. There’s so much to learn.”

Aside from all his preparation and sacrifice, his humbleness may also stem from his relationship with God. Garrett acknowledges that without his faith, he wouldn’t be where he is today.

“I chose it, but it also chose me, too,” Garrett said. “I try and put God into everything. If you do things on your own, it’s not going to be the same. God has a better plan, so I just try to be on that plan.”

That plan has taken Garrett from high school in California, to prep school in Florida, to Allen Fieldhouse in Kansas and Garrett shows no signs of slowing down. He doesn’t forget what he’s done to get where he is and continues to take his faith with him onto the court every day, even before practice.

“The first thing I do before anything is pray – cover the practice, cover my teammates and cover myself,” Garrett smiled. “After that, I just try and drink a lot of Gatorade.”

One more lesson learned.