Red Storm in Review 2011-12: Amir Garrett

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

"He is versatile and will be able to help us." - D`Angelo Harrison on Amir Garrett, after his debut vs Texas Pan-American. Below, a look at Garrett's half year with the Storm, and where he needs to improve.

One of the most exciting aspects of Amir Garrett's game on the high school level was that he didn't seem to have stress about his on-court game.

No fear in his eyes.

No hesitation in his step.

He would defend big men. He would defend the perimeter with fearless abandon. He would attack the rim sadistically. He would take open jump shots. He was confident in his game.

Attitude-wise, he's a great basketball player, the kind of baller any coach would welcome onto his team. A great attitude and motor is one thing for the supremely athletic Garrett. But for a player who came to college with questions about his shot and perimeter skills, how will those skills improve?

There is Garrett's side narrative as well. Amir Garrett's fastball earned him a draft pick and one million dollars from the Cincinnati Reds' organization. And from the evaluation of Amir Garrett's pitching, he's rounding into baseball shape in the Reds' minor league system.

We bring this up, of course, because the spectre hanging over Garrett's career has to be the simplistic question of "which sport will he pick" and the more globally inquisitive "how well can a player develop with little offseason in each sport?"

Maybe that question will linger for another year or two.

Even raw, with no October training with the Red Storm and being tossed into the fire once eligible, Garrett was good. He started off his season slow, even timid; but his role broadened as he became a primal-screaming, slashing, hustling, hard-competing wing that added a lot on the floor.

"Earlier in the season, I was scared to take shots and scared to mess up," Garrett said after slicing through the DePaul Blue Demons in late February.

Garrett had a season high of 18 points against DePaul in the game mentioned above; and a high of 5 assists and a high of 9 rebounds in early March in a losing effort against Rutgers.

Impressive as he was late in the season, can he elevate his game and become the Red Storm's second or third scorer? Can Amir Garrett become more consistent?

The positives: Everyday he's hustling.

Amir Garrett Essential Stats*

Rumble_icon_x-small_copy_mediumDefense was excellent as advertised, just as it was for Sir`Dominic Pointer coming into the program. Garrett was credited with a number of steals, and that doesn't speak to his defensive impact. He made it hard for ballhandlers to get around him into the lane - a skill that will serve the team well with shot blockers waiting in the reeds.

At 6'5", Garrett is a significant barrier to dribble past or to shoot over. Surprisingly, he only had 5 blocks on the season; but that may speak to defensive intelligence - knowing how to defend and bother players without risking fouls.

Rumble_icon_x-small_copy_mediumCoaches often coax their players to be in attack mode, and Amir Garrett takes that to heart. For a player who rarely initiates his offense in the post, a whopping 67% of his offense is at the rim - layups, dunks, tip-ins - the same percentage of shots taken at the rim as Notre Dame's interior rock, Jack Cooley. Garrett, of course, is not the focal point of the Red Storm offense; that comparison is for a sense of scale. Garrett diversifies on occasion, peppering in a deep jumper or two. But when Garrett gets the ball, he's looking to punish the rim for the many ways it has wrong his family. Or just because a player's got to go hard in the paint.

Rumble_icon_x-small_copy_mediumAmir Garrett is focused on the game, and hustles to make the supplemental play - whether it's diving on the floor, or taking the last shot against Notre Dame when all other options were bottled up, or making smart passes against Rutgers. Video: Amir Garrett game winner Notre Dame

The negatives: consistency of outcomes

Rumble_icon_x-small_copy_mediumGarrett's effort is consistent. It's the results that aren't; and it's because Amir Garrett needs to improve his offensive game. His slashing is very good in a straight line, especially with a running start. But he needs to be able to hit the open jump shot with more consistency. A good sign for his shooting is that he shot 3/7 (43%) on deep jump shots (a step or two inside the three-point line), and 5/15 (33%) if you include mid-range shots to that number. Not great, but there's potential there.

Rumble_icon_x-small_copy_mediumFree throw shooting must improve if Garrett wants to make an impact. On the floor at the ends of games, Amir has to be a reliable option. He was decent in the few "clutch" chances he had, but as the Red Storm improve as a team, tight games will reveal whether his 58% free throw shooting is an aberration or an albatross.

Rumble_icon_x-small_copy_mediumBetter dribbling will help Garrett find more time on the floor. Garrett's dribble could generate a number of free throw opportunities given his aggressiveness, and would help keep him on the floor with options like Pointer, Phil Greene, Jamal Branch, and Marco Bourgault available.


Amir Garrett, as is, is an awesome role player on the Red Storm. He can rebound, he defends with good size, he's pesky, terrier-tenacious, the kind of battler who sets the tone for the team through scrappy play.

Whether he can provide more isn't a function of just being a sophomore; it takes work to become better. Garrett is obviously pretty diligent, making the transition to baseball in the summer isn't easy. But the transition back to basketball isn't like flipping a switch. Will we see his development fall behind his peers? Or will Amir's confidence and aggressiveness power him to breakthroughs in consistency and shooting ability?

There's nothing wrong with scrappy play - many Big East greats have become all-league players mostly on their ability to will their teams to victory through toughness.

But the talent to do more is there for the athletic and agile Amir Garrett. With strong skill development, he could be much like D.J. Kennedy was for the Red Storm - a player who could take over games in stretches, but let a lot of the game come to him while he did all of the little things on the floor.

* note: Amir Garrett played in three non-conference games, so takes his numbers with a grain of salt.

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