Marcus Garrett primed to lead Kansas next season

Marcus Garrett has been a bit underappreciated during his time with Kansas, but he’s more than capable of leading the team next season.

In many ways, Marcus Garrett is the perfect ‘glue guy.’ He does a little bit of everything: scoring, rebounding, passing, defending, and he can be counted on every night to play heavy minutes. The more one digs into Garrett’s numbers and contributions, however, it becomes clear he’s so much more than just a “glue guy.”

All-Around Game

The 6-5 guard might not be regarded as a great NBA prospect, but he’s capable of being one of the best players in college basketball next season. Reinforcing his ‘does everything’ reputation, only seven players last season averaged at least 32 minutes, 4.6 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.6 steals (per sports-reference). Garrett and North Carolina AT&T’s Langley are the only two of the seven returning next season.

  • Marcus Garrett – Kansas
  • Kira Lewis Jr. – Alabama
  • Tyrese Haliburton – Iowa State
  • Malik Johnson – Canisius
  • Sa’eed Nelson – American
  • Juvaris Hayes – Merrimack
  • Kameron Langley – North Carolina AT&T

Elite Defender

Garrett’s more than just a great stat-sheet stuffer. Contributions on the defensive end of the floor tend to get less notoriety, and all the end-of-season awards got less attention due to the NCAA Tournament cancellation. Still, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Garrett was named the 2020 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year. There’s no reason the Dallas, Texas native can’t be the best defensive player in the sport next season as well.

Capable Lead Guard

Devon Dotson was the clear lead guard for last season’s Jayhawks team, and with him turning pro the team will be looking for a replacement at the guard spot. Incoming five-star guard Bryce Thompson will simply fill the void. Thompson said so himself last November.

“They want me to come in and replace Devon Dotson because he’s going to the league, so just come in with that role and make a big impact from day one.”

Although Thompson should make a big impact next season, Garrett may fill the lead guard role more than some would expect. Garrett showed some improvement as a low-volume outside shooter last season, but Thompson’s 3-point skillset makes him better suited to an off-the-ball role.

It’s more than just this. Garrett is extremely capable as a lead ball-handler, and his playmaking last season was significantly underrated. In fact, through one statistical lens, he was among the five best distributors in the entire nation.

Only five players last season met the following statistical criteria: >= 30 minutes per game, >= 4.6 assists per game, <= 1.8 turnovers per game, assist percentage >= 24.9% AND turnover percentage <= 16.1% (at least 25 minutes per game and 20 games played to qualify).

  • Marcus Garrett – Kansas
  • Malachi Flynn – San Diego State
  • D’Mitrik Trice – Wisconsin
  • Eyassu Worku – UC Irvine
  • Bryce Fowler – Sacramento State
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As demonstrated above, Garrett thrives as an interior passer, finding Jayhawks big men for lobs and post pins. Udoka Azubuike made all of this easier, but Garrett should find plenty of success with David McCormack next season.

Dangerous Slasher

Garrett’s 3-point and free throw percentages reached career-highs in 2019-20 (32.7%, 60.9%), and his 6-9 long-range outburst against Oklahoma provided further optimism. Still, when it comes to scoring, Garrett will always be at his best when he’s attacking the basket. He utilizes his quickness to get by defenders, and though he might not be a high-flyer, he’s a strong finisher in the paint.

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Not only does Garrett bring a ton to the table, but he can also be counted on every night. He didn’t miss a single game last season and averaged 32.2 high-intensity minutes.

Perhaps no game better encapsulates Garrett’s durability than Kansas’s February 12th road victory over West Virginia. He played all 40 minutes of regulation, posting 9 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5 steals. Garrett was the only player last season to pull off this statistical feat.


The first three preseason rankings I stumbled upon (NBC, CBS, ESPN) each had the Jayhawks at #6. If Marcus Garrett can take the next step and reach his potential, Kansas can surely exceed this expectation.

(Credit to sports-reference and KenPom for statistics and Big 12 Conference and ESPN for GIFS)

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