Garrett to play in Croatia


Photo: Rebekka Brown/Iowa State Daily

Guard Diante Garrett jumps over a Colorado opponent for a layup during the Iowa State v. Colorado game held Wednesday, March 2 at Hilton Coliseum. Garrett helped the Cyclones defeat the Buffalos 95-90 with 16 points in the basket.

Zach Gourley

The axiom that “no one is hiring right now” is one that many college graduates have likely used to describe the job market after they graduate.

For Diante Garrett, that oft-used metaphor became a reality. When it comes to NBA hopefuls, quite literally no one is hiring right now.

A leaguewide lockout has made it impossible for players to participate in try-outs, or for teams to sign any draft picks or free agents.

As a result, Garrett has signed with KK Zagreb, a Croatian professional basketball team.

“I need a job — can’t just sit around and wait until the lockout is over and not be able to do anything when I have a chance to go overseas and make some money and play,” Garrett said.

Garrett, who averaged 17.3 points and 6.1 assists per game as a senior, had been projected as a late-second-round pick before the 2011 NBA Draft, but was not selected.

The 6-foot-4 Milwaukee, Wis. native had also gone to Arizona before the lockout started to participate in a Phoenix Suns minicamp.

In light of the labor turmoil in the league right now, Garrett said he was confident he made the right choice.

“It was just the best situation that was out there for me right now. It’s just getting a chance to get out there and showcase my ability and it was a chance to play in one of best Euro leagues out there,” Garrett said. “It was a no-brainer.”

Garrett was not the only NBA hopeful that KK Zagreb was able to sign amid the lockout turmoil.

Former Pittsburgh center Gary McGhee and forward Papa Dia, from Southern Methodist University, have also signed with the team.

“Both of those guys are with the same agency that I’m with, so we were out in L.A. working out together,” Garrett said. “I know those guys and they’re real cool and it’ll be fun to be out there with other guys that I know.”

McGhee averaged 6.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game last year for a Pittsburgh team that garnered a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament before being eliminated in the second round by Butler.

As a forward with the Southern Methodist Mustangs, Dia averaged 18.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per game his senior year.

Though he is putting his NBA hopes on hold for now, Garrett thinks his time playing overseas could eventually help him accomplish his dream of being an NBA player.

“It’s a good opportunity to go over there and play,” Garrett said. “A lot of guys have gone overseas and gotten better playing over there and then come back and got a chance to get into the NBA, so why not take that chance?”

Unlike their NFL counterparts, who agreed on Monday to end their own lockout, NBA players are still at the beginning of what could be a very lengthy lockout.

Many are predicting that the 2011-2012 NBA season may not only be shortened, but could be lost altogether.

Garrett said that if the lockout does indeed drag on, he thinks there will be plenty of NBA players who are drawn to play overseas.

“A lot of guys want to play and they have to make money for their families, so I think you’ll see more players go over there,” Garrett said.

Garrett added that he plans to head overseas to meet up with his new team near the end of August to begin practice.