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Basketball goes back a long way in the Garrett family. In the late 1940s, William Garrett was the first African-American basketball player to play in the Big Ten. Billy Garrett, his son, is an assistant basketball coach at DePaul, and now 6-4 swingman Billy Garrett Jr. has led Morgan Park to the Public League championship game, with his eyes on a state title next month.
In a CPS semifinal against Simeon on Wednesday, Garrett hit the game-winning layup with 11 seconds left in overtime to propel the Mustangs to a victory over the top-ranked team in the state. As big as the shot was, the most impressive quality he displayed throughout the game was his composure and unselfishness. Garrett always seemed to make the correct play to put his teammates in position to succeed.
He is a leader and a winner.
“It’s just my personality,’’ Garrett said. ‘‘I try and stay level-headed at all times. I just try and be an extension [of] the coach on the floor.’’
Coming into the season, Garrett’s goals were simple: win a city and state championship. By not having a personal agenda and only worrying about his team and its success, the individual accolades are starting to role in. He was selected to the All-Public League first team, yet is more proud of winning as a team.
“Teams win games,’’ Garrett said. ‘‘My teammates and I stick together through every game and that’s why we’re successful.’’
Garrett is a prime example of a student-athlete. As great as he is on the court he is even more impressive in the classroom. An Illinois State Scholar with a 4.0 GPA, he has the best of both worlds. “From the outside looking in, people wouldn’t think that,” Garrett said.
Garrett demands a lot from himself and his teammates, but the senior realizes that this is his last chance with this talented Mustangs squad.
“Anything less than a state championship, would really be a bad year for us,” Garrett said.