Marcus Garrett declares for NBA Draft, says 'goodbye' to KU basketball

Matt Galloway
Topeka Capital-Journal
Marcus Garrett on Wednesday night declared for the NBA Draft and announced his intention to focus all of his efforts into transitioning into his professional career. A former Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, Garrett averaged 11 points on a career-best 45.9% shooting last season for the Jayhawks.

LAWRENCE — Marcus Garrett has decided now is the right time to move on.

Garrett, who just finished his fourth season with Kansas basketball, intends to forego his bonus year of eligibility and officially kick-start his professional career, the guard announced Wednesday night in an open letter addressed to Jayhawk fans. A 6-foot-5, 205-pounder out of Dallas, Garrett helped KU to a Final Four as a freshman and earned Naismith Defensive Player of the Year honors following his junior campaign.

After thanking head coach Bill Self, his teammates, his family and KU supporters, Garrett acknowledged it's time to say “goodbye for now.”

“I’m officially putting all my efforts into preparing for the 2021 NBA Draft,” Garrett concluded. “I hope I just gave you a glimpse into how amazing these last four year have been for me. Now ... it’s time for the next chapter in my life. But don’t ever get it twisted, it’s Rock Chalk forever.”

Garrett, who averaged 11 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 2020-21, is currently listed by ESPN.com as the 86th-best available player in the upcoming draft.

“Marcus is a great player and I would have loved for him to return for another season, but the reality is this is the best decision for him and we fully support that,” Self said in a news release. “I believe what he accomplished in his career here at KU has put him in a great position to make this step. To see the progress he made over his four years, including being named the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, makes me excited to see him at the next level.

"He has meant a lot to our program and our fans, and we all know he will continue to make us proud.”

Playing as the Jayhawks' primary point guard for the first time last season, Garrett shot career-bests of 45.9% from the floor, 34.8% from 3-point range and 80.8% from the free-throw line. He notched 15 points on 6-for-15 shooting with six rebounds, four assists and no turnovers in 31 minutes in KU's 85-51 season-ending defeat to USC on March 22 in Indianapolis, with Garrett the lone Jayhawk to reach double-figure scoring in the lopsided loss.

A two-time All-Big 12 selection, Garrett was named the Big 12 defensive player of the year at the end of the 2019-20 season, an abbreviated campaign that saw KU ranked No. 1 nationally at its conclusion. Garrett was also a three-time All-Big 12 defensive team honoree.

“There’s only one bad part about being a basketball player at Kansas. You know what it is? Saying goodbye. ... So I’m not leaving without letting you all know how thankful I am,” Garrett wrote. “Before I came to school here, I had probably left Texas twice in my lifetime. When I got here, everything was new to me. And from the moment I walked on campus, you all took me in. No questions asked.

“You treated me as family. You made the transition from high school to college easy. I cannot thank you all enough for that.”

Garrett joins guard Ochai Agbaji and forward Jalen Wilson as Jayhawks to declare for the NBA Draft set for July 29, though Agbaji and Wilson have both retained their NCAA eligibility and left open the possibility of returning to KU. Jayhawks exiting via the transfer portal this offseason, meanwhile, include guards Bryce Thompson, Tyon Grant-Foster, Tristan Enaruna and Latrell Jossell and forward Gethro Muscadin.

Among the incoming crop of KU players are high school recruits K.J. Adams (four-star forward), Zach Clemence (four-star forward), Kyle Cuffe Jr. (four-star guard) and Bobby Pettiford (three-star guard) and transfers Joseph Yesufu (former Drake guard), Cam Martin (former Missouri Southern forward) and Sydney Curry (former John A. Logan College forward).

MARYLAND HIRES MANNING AS ASSISTANT COACH — Former Jayhawk great Danny Manning will join Mark Turgeon's staff at Maryland, the Baltimore Sun reported Wednesday.

Manning, who played with the Topeka native Turgeon at KU before enjoying a 15-season NBA career, most recently served as head coach at Wake Forest (2014-2020). He also held a head coaching role at Tulsa (2012-14) and, before that, spent nine seasons as an assistant coach at KU.

KU's all-time leading scorer (2,951 points) and rebounder (1,187), Manning led the Jayhawks to the 1988 national championship.