A few hours with Diante Garrett

Jeremiah Davis

Ever wonder what your favorite athlete does during the hours leading up to the biggest game on their schedule? 

What do they do? Who do they see? Where do they spend their time?

Well, before the game against Kansas on Wednesday, I got to see what Diante Garrett does before a big game. It was just a few hours and didn’t take me deep into the mind of the senior guard. But it was definitely revealing.

I met up with Garrett at the Sukup Basketball Complex, where he was waiting to go to Hilton Coliseum to get extra shots up before the game.

“Any chance I can, I gotta get up extra shots,” Garrett said.

We rode to Hilton with his cousin, Greg Brown, and his older brother, Damon Garrett, who along with several other family members were in town to take in the game.

“Since it’s his last year, we figure we got to come watch as many as we can,” Damon Garrett said. “We love watching him play.”

Throughout the car ride, the brothers and their cousin cracked jokes. Because there was someone new in the car, many of the jokes were aimed at the younger Garrett. The atmosphere was jovial and good-natured. If Garrett was worried or nervous about the game that night, there was no way of knowing.

Once we arrived at Hilton, we spent some time in the locker room with all the players currently on the scout team, who were there for a special workout before shoot-around. Even when he wasn’t joking with his teammates, Diante seemed at ease.

Part of putting him at ease is the music he listens to leading up to games. It’s not the kind of music many would expect.

“I don’t know why, [but] I just like listening to slow music before the game,” he said. “It puts me at ease for some odd reason.”

While the scout team was doing their workout, Garrett got to work at the opposite hoop putting up those extra shots to “get loose and focused for the game.” Brown and Damon Garrett served as his rebounders and didn’t let up on the joking that carried over from the car ride.

Brown also taught yours truly a new sports term while the team got started with shoot-around. 

“He’s ofa-ofa,” Brown said laughing, as he watched a Cyclone player miss two straight free throws. “If a guy misses a few shots right in a row, we say he’s ‘ofa-ofa,’ like 0-for-whatever.”

After the Cyclones were done going through their shoot-around practice, Garrett, Chris Babb and Brown had a three-point shooting contest. While Brown was “ofa-ofa” to start out the contest — a fact I had to point out to him, which made him laugh and regret teaching me — he tried his best to get in his cousin’s head. The three played three rounds, and Garrett ended up victorious, foreshadowing the offensive production he was to have against the Jayhawks that night.

We parted ways shortly after. Back at the Sukup Complex, Garrett, his brother and his cousin were still giving each other a hard time — something that has obviously been commonplace for a long time. 

What I took away from the few hours I got to spend with them was just how loose and relaxed Garrett seemed. There wasn’t a major sense of urgency or nervousness. He was happy, ready and determined to make the most of his last game against Kansas at Hilton Coliseum. 

Having his family there didn’t hurt either.

“I always gotta show them what I’ve been working on when they come to visit,” Garrett said. “Them coming to support me always gives me more motivation to come out and play as hard as I can.”

And play hard he did, tallying 27 points and five assists to lead the Cyclones in the 84-79 loss to the then-No. 3 team in the nation. 

He might not be like many other high-profile athletes, but with Diante Garrett, what you see is what you get. His energy and laughter is ever-present, and if anything, it will lead this Cyclone team throughout the rest of the season.