Only a year before reaching the big dance, Diante Garrett was paying some serious dues in Croatia as a rookie and was as far away from the NBA as the next NBA player is from matching Jamal Murray´s incredible 50 points in a game without one single free throw attempt. A year later Diante Garrett entered the American Airlines arena in Miami and was about to set foot on the floor and see totally different type of players then what he had seen in Croatia. The comparison of saying players from a different universe could of fit perfectly. Garrett had made the Phoenix Suns and was able to call European stars Goran Dragic and Marcin Gortat teammates as well as talented and well known Americans like Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson and Shannon Brown. But absolutely no disrespect to them, but these guys didn´t size up to the guys he would be battling as Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen were on the other side not about to give any freebees to the 24 year old kid. He also was able to witness the great Shane Battier and see an old foe from the NCAA with Mario Chalmers. The American who lists Mario Chalmers as one of his toughest covers in the NCAA when he won the NCAA title with Kansas was fortunate and got into the game even if he only breathed 2 minutes of NBA air. “I scored my first NBA basket against Miami. I remember just being on the court and seeing Lebron and D Wade and just thinking Oh my God. I was shocked to see them. I remember that the Heat was beating us badly. I remember coach Alvin Gentry saying DG go. Lebron wasn´t on the court. I just remember going baseline and getting a lay up over Ray Allen. I have a picture and will never forget it”, stressed Diante Garrett. Now more than 8 years later the basketball career of Diante Garrett is still active, but he has been in Europe since 2015. Like so many guys before him, he had his time in the NBA, but after 3 seasons, accepted that his career would continue in Europe. He has racked up an impressive career overseas where he has demonstrated his abilities and consistency in many different leagues and currently is in his 10th professional season and giving his best to help the Jobstairs Giessen 46ers remain in the easyCredit BBL.
He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 3rd, 1988 and attended Harold S. Vincent High School where he averaged 15,2ppg and 5,3apg as a senior and was named Milwaukee player of the year and was named first team all state. In 2007 he made his way to the NCAA and decided to play for Iowa State where he remained 4 years playing a total of 128 NCAA games. He was a solid guard in his first 3 years where he averaged 9,0ppg and 5,0apg in his second and third years, but his game took a total transformation in his senior year where he exploded averaging 17.3ppg, 3.7rpg, 6.1apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 41.3%, 3PT: 31.9%, FT: 82.5%. A big reason for his massive strides as a player was head coach Fred Hoiberg who came on board in his senior year. “A big shout out to coach Fred. He gave me the awesome green light. He took a chance on me and gave me a lot of self-confidence. I remember him calling me in Milwaukee and telling me that he was the new head coach. He told me I will put the ball in your hands. He then asked me that he wanted to meet me so I drove to him. He told me that he would give me the keys to the team and let me go. He told me that I was a true point guard, but that after 3 years I could also be a scoring point guard. The next day we were in the gym and working on my jump shot. I remember thinking that this guy was a legend and he had the confidence in me. I went from 9,0ppg to 17ppg as a senior and that was because of him”, remembered Diante Garrett. He never was able to reach the big dance with Iowa State, but he still remembers his 4 years with a lot of joy. “I have a lot of great memories. I remember beating Kansas State when they were top 3 in the country. I also remember scoring 27 points against Kansas that was on ESPN. I will never forget all the rival games against schools like Iowa, Drake and Northern Iowa. All the games were sold out and the excitement level was so high already 3 days before the game”, stated Diante Garrett. He also remembers beating his teammate Darion Anderson who all called Jake all day on one on one games, but also remembers his teammate German Lucca Staiger with a lot of elation. “I remember when I passed Lucca the ball, I could get 3,4,5,6 assists that game. No matter what I knew his shot would go in. He really shot the ball well and was a cool guy. I remember his little brother Jannick came to our practices. He wants to come to a Gießen game. I know Lucca is in Spain now. It would have been nice to see him again. He is a teammate and friend that I will always remember”, expressed Diante Garrett.
After finishing at Iowa State in 2011, he took part at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (Pre-NBA Draft) playing 3 games averaging 10.7ppg, 2.3rpg, 3.0apg, 1.3spg. After not getting any NBA interest, he took his craft overseas starting in Croatia with KK Zagreb Croatia Osiguranje (Croatia-A1) playing 3 Euroleague games averaging 3.7ppg, 1.3rpg, 2.0apg; and played 3 Adriatic League games averaging 4.3ppg, 1.0rpg, 1.3apg. He then moved to JSF Nanterre (France-ProA) playing 25 games averaging 7.4ppg, 2.6rpg, 3.0apg, FGP: 63.0%, 3PT: 34.3%, FT: 81.5%. He got his first taste of the Euroleague playing against Bamberg where he scored 11 points in his debut, Panathinaikos and CSKA Moscow, but had little luck getting hammered in all 3 games and losing by 92 points combined. But he was fortunate in getting an early taste of the NBA as he battled against great names like Mike Bastiste, Dimitris Diamantidis, Brian Roberts, Casey Jacobsen, Andrei Kirilenko, Nenad Kristic and Milos Teodosic. His stay in Croatia was short, but he closed out his rookie season well in France. He will never forget how Croatia and France were like day and night off the court. “My wake up call occurred my first few weeks in Croatia. I had to live in a hotel the first weeks. I had no internet in my room and had to go to the lobby for that. I had to down load movies and do Skype in the lobby. I was in the lobby until 2,30 am some nights. I also had no car. I asked myself is this going to be the way it is the whole season? This just wasn´t normal. Sometimes I was late to practice, because I had no car. I had to rely on teammates and employees to drive me to practice. I then went to France. I had an apartment, car and internet right away. It was A-1. I was very happy. I saw the worst and then the best”, stressed Diante Garrett. When you have had hundreds and hundreds of teammates over a span of more than 10 years, it can become difficult to remember every player, but sometimes it helps when a guy had expressive tattoos. “That´s a great question. I´m trying to picture him in my mind. Yes I remember Mario Kasun. The guy with the Tattoos. You could tell right away that he was a real veteran in the Euro style of play. He had that special swagger that I will never forget”, said Diante Garrett.
In his second professional season he made the jump to the NBA with the Phoenix Suns (NBA) playing 18 games averaging 2.2ppg, 1.7apg, and played 10 games with the Bakersfield Jam (D-League averaging 18.0ppg, 3.6rpg, 7.2apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 48.4%, FT: 85.2%. In the D-League he scorched Santa Cruz for 32 points in a 106-105 win and in the NBA with the Suns his best results were 9 points against the Rockets and 8 points against the Jazz. In his third professional season he was able to play a full NBA season with the Utah Jazz playing 71 games averaging 3,5ppg, 1,4rpg and 1,7 apg. But getting to Utah wasn´t an easy one as he had a very crazy pre season with various stops. “My time in Phoenix prepared me for the NBA game. The NBA is very different from being overseas. It´s your dream to play in the NBA and you just try to soak in as much as you can. In my second season I played with the Suns Summer League team and I thought that I had played well enough to get a shot from another team. Then I got a shot from the Oklahoma Thunder. It was the year where Russell Westbrook was hurt. They had Reggie Jackson and Derek Fischer at the point. I wanted to be that third point guard. We went to Turkey and played some games and got some playing time. I then was briefly with Iowa in the D-League. Then I got the call from Utah. I knew that I had deserved an opportunity. It was definitely a crazy pre season”, remembered Diante Garrett. He scored in double figures in 5 NBA games and his most memorable game was hitting his ex team Phoenix Suns for 15 points. “That is a game that I remember most. I remember when I faced the Suns, I was playing against some ex teammates like PJ Tucker, the Morris twins and Archie Goodwin. I was happy to see the coaching staff and all, but when the game began, I knew that I had to give it to them on the court”, added Diante Garrett. He also was fortunate not only to square off against future NBA legends, but also had extraordinary teammates like Richard Jefferson who helped him along the ride. “ RJ did a lot of talking in the locker room and on the bench. He cracked a lot of jokes. What stuck with me most was that he told me that if you want to stay here you have to keep working and stay late. He told me and Ian Clark this. He also told us you have to be professional and not let the team think that you don´t want to get better. You have to show them that you want to keep getting better”, stated Diante Garrett.
In his fourth professional season and last at home, he had another whirlwind of a season, but this time he didn´t play another NBA game, but landed in the D-League as his NBA dream was halted as he learned exactly that the NBA is a business. “I learned that you have to be mentally prepared for the NBA. Sometimes you get traded or waived. Sometimes when your not a big name like myself you don´t hear the news until it´s too late. I felt that I played well at the end of the season for Utah. I really felt like they would give me another shot, but then I was traded to Toronto for Steve Novak. I thought I would play NBA Summer League for the Raptors, so I prepared for it. I thought this would be another opportunity for me to showcase my skills. Nobody called my from the Raptors organization about the Summer League. The next thing I knew I wasn´t on the roster and I was confused. Then I went to Portland to play in training camp. I jumped the gun to fast. I thought I would be on the team and everything would be ok. The only problem was that they were guard heavy with Lillard, Mccullum, Crabbe etc. I felt I didn´t get the chance I deserved. I found myself being in the NBA where you never know what will happen”, warned Diante Garrett. He split time with the Iowa Energy (D-League) playing 30 games averaging 14.7ppg, 4.8rpg, 4.5apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 42.2%, 3PT: 40.7%, FT: 75.0%,and with the Grand Rapids Drive (D-League) playing 14 games averaging 11.0ppg, 3.5rpg, 3.0apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 43.8%, 3PT: 39.6%, FT: 91.3%. He showed his consistency scoring in double figures in 31 of 44 games including 34 points against his ex team Iowa, nailed Delaware for 27 points and scored 25 points a piece against Sioux Falls and Oklahoma. One thing that will never change for any professional player is the self-confidence of their own abilities. They are always there and for Garrett, he still did have hope that he might get a NBA call up. “I didn´t feel like the NBA was drifting away from me. I continued to think that I had played well and that an organization would give me a shot. I remember seeing guys getting called up or getting deals, and I knew that I had played better than them. I always thought I would get a call, but I never got a call. After Grand Rapids, I felt it was time to take my talents overseas”, remembered Diante Garrett. He still believed in the NBA dream in the summer of 2015 as he was very convincing in his play at the NBA Pro Summer League in Orlando (Los Angeles Clippers) averaging 10.6ppg, 3.2rpg, 3.4apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 48.9% and with the Chicago Bulls averaging 9.3ppg, 1.8rpg, 4.5apg, FGP: 40.0%. Despite his solid play in Orlando and Las Vegas, he had to then accept that his basketball career would take a major turn and change. “There was no interest in the summer of 2015. After I played NBA Summer League, my agent and I sat down and we decided to make money overseas. If an NBA team really would have wanted to give me a shot then they would of. If I would have returned to the NBA, it would have had to make sense. I didn´t want to have that situation again like in Portland”, stressed Diante Garrett.
The American who lists Jacob Pullen as his toughest cover in the NCAA took his game overseas again for the second time joining Maccabi Ashdod (Israel-Winner League) playing 33 games averaging 18.7ppg, 3.7rpg, Assists-3(6.2apg), 1.4spg, FGP: 49.7%, 3PT: 31.1%, FT: 83.1%. Israel is a place that always hits the hearts of Americans and it wasn´t any different for Garrett. “Israel and Japan have been the top 2 places where I have lived. Off the court it was great. I lived across the street from the beach. We had one practice a day for an hour at mid day. After that you had a nice day at the beach. It was a cool vibe. I liked the style on the court. It was like pick up basketball. It was up and down and who scored more won. Also there were no long road trips. The longest was 2 hours”, commented Diante Garrett. He scored in double figures in 32 of 33 games and hit Maccabi Rishon for 32 points, but beating top Euroleague team Maccabi Tel Aviv twice and exploding for 34 points in the first game was his fondest moment on the court in Israel. “I remember that they didn´t have us on their scouting report. They didn´t even practice or have a shoot around before the game. They weren´t thinking about us. That gave us the motivation to go out and give our all. I felt good that day and was just hooping. I didn´t even know I had had 34 points until I saw the stat sheet at the end of the game. I remember my teammate Isaiah Swann yelling at me “that´s how you do it boy”. Swann has been one of my favorite teammates in Europe. He could light it up at anytime and he was so much fun to watch”, stressed Diante Garrett. In his sixth professional season he made the trek to Japan and played with Toyota Alvark Tokyo (Japan-B League) playing 62 games averaging 18.3ppg, 4.7rpg, Assists-3(4.0apg), 1.5spg, FGP: 50.5%, 3PT: 32.3%, FT: 78.1%. He had to deal with a totally new way of life and back to back games, but his game never suffered, but it sparkled. “I actually liked the concept of back to back games. I wish that they would have squeezed one more game in during the week. The wait until the weekend was always so long. I didn´t like the American player rule. I couldn´t always play and that was frustrating and a big adjustment. I really loved the style of play. Everybody played hard and everyone knew their role. Fans showed up for each game. The fans were my favorite that I ever had. They showed so much love and always gave us presets and food. They also always waited for autographs. I almost felt like a rock star, because the fans made it alive”, stated Diante Garrett. His great consistency was seen in Japan as he scored in double figures in 61 of 62 games. He scored 20 points or more 26 times including 35 points and 28 points against the Chiba Jets.
The American who lists his personal own NBA Mount Rushmore with legends Kobe, Jordan, Lebron, Iverson returned back to Europe and continued to play great basketball as he played with Fiat Torino (Italy-Serie A) playing 29 games averaging 13.6ppg, 3.1rpg, Assists-3(5.4apg), 1.3spg, FGP: 44.8%, 3PT: 33.0%, FT: 74.7%; and played 16 Eurocup games averaging 14.6ppg, 2.3rpg, 4.1apg, Steals-4(1.6spg), FGP: 50.4%, 3PT: 46.8%, FT: 85.7%. The biggest moment for any player is winning that chip and so far he has only won 2 and getting that first professional title is always the greatest. “Winning the Italian cup was my fondest moment. I remember seeing this picture on Instagram of the team holding the cup. It brought back great memories. We played a crazy 3 games. I still can´t believe that we pulled it off”, said Diante Garrett. In the Italian Serie A he scored in double figures 23 times including 25 points against Umana Ve and 23 points against The Flexx PT. In Euro Cup play he scored in double figures 14 times and hit Levallois and Darussafaka for 22 points apiece. In the 2018-2019 season he strapped on the jersey for Tofas Bursa (Turkey-BSL) playing 20 games averaging 14.6ppg, 3.2rpg, Assists-2(6.3apg), 1.3spg, FGP: 58.2%, 3PT: 32.6%, FT: 70.6%; and played Eurocup: 10 games averaging 18.4ppg, 2.8rpg, 6.1apg, FGP: 57.4%, 3PT: 43.5%, FT: 75.8%. He led the Eurocup in scoring and was third in assists. It was definitely his best season as a professional and one could see that his game had matured a lot in that season. “I felt my game grew a lot in Turkey. I was scoring a lot and getting a lot of assists. I felt like I was in rhythm all year. There were some games where I scored only 12 points in the Turkish league. That gave me a lot of motivation to bounce back in Eurocup games. I saw it as an opportunity to showcase my abilities. The game slowed down for me and I found my spots. The club gave me the freedom I needed to be successful”, stressed Diante Garrett. He was also teammates with ex De Paul great Sammy Mejia and like so many talented guys in Europe, he was one of many to be lost in the shuffle of too many great players around the world and too little NBA spots available. “How couldn´t this guy be in the NBA? He was around 35 years old and I never noticed. I didn´t put 2 and 2 together until about 3 months into the season. I asked him after 3 months how old he was and he said 35. I couldn´t believe it. I remember talking to an old friend who had gone to De Paul. He asked me is Sammy still playing? .He didn´t play like a 35 year old, but played like someone my age. He could score and was so smart on the court. He was one of the top players in Turkey at that time. I always knew I could go to him for a bucket. Seeing him play well at his age gave me a lot of hope that I could still do it at his age. He took care of his body each day”, remembered Diante Garrett.
Garrett who lists his all-time favorite teammates with Craig Brackens, Ian Clark, Brandon Rush, Isaiah Swann, Charles Thomas, Kyle Weems, Ian Miller and Trevor Mbakwe was supposed to play the 2019-2020 season with ASP Promitheas Patras (Greece-A1), but a cruel achilles injury sidelined him the whole season and then COVID-19 hit the world. Sitting out that season wasn´t an easy one, but COVID-19 actually helped him get more time to get his body totally to 100% again. “It was a tricky situation for me, but also a blessing in disguise. I had had an achilles injury and usually your out 1-2 years when you have that. I had had a good rehab and been working out and found a groove. I was hoping to find a team to finish the 2019-2020 season, but then COVID-19 hit. Everything was shut down and that sat me down again. That was good because I got more rest, extra treatment and in better shape again. This time helped me a lot get ready for this season”, commented Diante Garrett. Having a brutal injury and experiencing COVID-19 definitely made him stronger as a man. “COVID-19 has made me mentally stronger and helped me become more patient. My injury and COVID-19 was tough, because I was out so long and teams started to question if I could still play. I just stayed patient and knew that my time would eventually come. I just kept working and stayed with it. My whole family stuck behind me and gave me positive energy which helped me mature”, warned Diante Garrett. He began the season with ASP Promitheas Patras (Greece-A1) playing 4 Eurocup games averaging 8.3ppg, 2.5rpg, 2.0apg; and 4 Greek league games averaging 4.8ppg, 1.8rpg, 1.5apg. It was tough coming back from being out for so long as his body all of a sudden had to endure a lot more than when he was at home rehabbing. “It was definitely difficult for me. Mentally and physically. During rehab I could rest more, but when I got to Greece I had to work out each day. My body was not used to it”, said Diante Garrett.
Let´s fast forward to 2021 as Diante Garrett who last watched the flick The Owners has found a new challenge in Germany with the Jobstairs Giessen 46ers. He has played in so many warm places and witnessed an incredible culture like Japan so coming to the small city Giessen must have been like a culture shock? “It hasn´t been as cold as I thought it would be. I thought that there would be more snow and I would have to wear my big winter jacket. I also thought I would have to use my window scrapper. All in all Gießen has been nice”, stated Diante Garrett. He has gotten the reins of a 3-15 club that is anchored in 17th place and deep in the cellar. He knows exactly what he has to do to help get his team back to winning ways. “I bring a winning attitude. I have been on many teams that were winning and were high in the standings. I hope I can help install my winning mind frame to my teammates. We still have a lot of games and I feel we can still win many. I am a player that loves to create for others and for myself”, warned Diante Garrett. He has a 1-2 record so far, but helped lead the team to a massive 97-93 win against top team EWE Baskets and currently is averaging 13,0ppg, 3,0rpg, 5,0apg and 1,3spg. He will definitely get even better as he gets more experience in the easyCredit BBL and when he has the daily opportunity to talk with ultimate veterans Brandon Bowman and Brandon Thomas who combined have 29 professional seasons and 13 seasons in Germany. “I haven´t had many times in my career where some of my teammates were so much older than me. Both have played in Germany for many years. I have been picking their brains about teams and players”, stressed Diante Garrett. The easyCredit BBL season still has a few more months and the American will surely help the club win some more games. He is fortunate that he has his family with him so being bored won´t be an option, but if he ever has a yearning to talk about the NBA, then he will be in good company with Brandon Bowman. Bowman is another one of those guys that definitely should have gotten a shot in the NBA, but alone with his good NBA contacts from back home in Los Angeles, Diante Garrett will never be bored in the locker room as these two will be able to give each other some NBA nostalgia stories.