Gladiators' Coach inducted into Ohio Hall, named SEBL Summer League Coach of Year
Recognition beginning to "roll" in for Hall of Famer Garrett
Lionel Garrett is like a "rolling stone," wherever he lays his hat is his home. Last weekend, Garrett placed a feather in his 'hat', as he was inducted into the Ohio High School Hall of Fame.
He first lay his "basketball" hat at Fairview HS in Dayton, Ohio, where he starred from 1972-75, averaging 20 and 20 his senior year. That would be 20 points and 20 rebounds - a game! Fairview, in the Miami Valley area, was closed down in 1982 due to consolidation. It was a home-coming for Garrett. His parents still live in Dayton and he was able to see many old friends during his trip back down memory lane. He was also inducted along side former Major League Baseball great Mike Schmidt.
Of course, Dayton has not been Garrett's only 'basketball' home. After High School, he moved on to set up house at Southern University in New Orleans, where he dominated the SWAC Conference from 1975-79. He was named to the All-SWAC team three years during his career, leading the Conference in Rebounding his senior season (15.8). He still holds several NCAA D1 records, including a single-game 30 point, 30 rebound effort, during the '79 season, when he finished third in rebounding nationally, only behind eventual NBA-greats Bill Cartwright and Larry Bird. He went on to be named to the All Star teams at the prestigious Portsmouth Invitational, as well as, the Aloha Classic.
After being the San Diego Clippers' 2nd pick of the '79 NBA Draft, Garrett hung his brim with the Harlem Globetrotters, Club Zaragoza in Spain and the Ohio Mixers of the CBA. After serving as player/coach for the Mixers in '86, he decided his stone should roll into the coaching ranks. He spent six years as an assistant at Miles College in Birmingham, before taking the helm from '92-'94, leading the Golden Bears to the Wilborforce HBCU Championship. The business world then called Garrett away from basketball, only to return for bigger and better things to come. He took over at Talledega (AL) College, where from 1999-2003, he turned a struggling basketball program around.
When the WBA's Rome Gladiators came calling, Garrett dove back into the professional minor leagues. He joined the Gladiator staff as an assistant coach in 2004. The Gladiators suffer through a difficult first season, as circumstances shut the lid on a talented coaching staff and emerging ownership team. Together with new owner Theo Ratliff, GM Harold Ellis, along with Garrett's positive nature, the Gladiators began to lift the seal of uncertainty during the '04 SEBL Summer League session. Garrett, serving as summer league head coach, led the Gladiators to the SEBL South Division Title and a 3rd place tourney finish, setting a tone for he and Ellis to develop a contender for the upcoming 2005 WBA season - and a mission to win. With the graces of Ratliff and his management team, the Gladiators battled through the season, as Ellis and Garrett guided the second-year team to a WBA Championship -- a true worst-to-first saga.
Continuing the mission, Garrett coached the Gladiators' summer league entry to the 2005 SEBL Title. The "Rolling Stone" put another feather in his hat, when he was named the SEBL Summer League Coach of the Year.
Garrett, in conversation, said he guessed at his age "it was time that some awards would begin to come his way," eluding that he had reached the crotchety old number that prompts organizations to recognize those who are not making much head way. Maybe his playing days are over, more Halls of Fame inductions and awards are around the corner, and warranted... but Garrett, the consumate 'student of the game' has only begun to see the fruits of his labor. Though he has served as a Head Coach on the college level, he is a supreme coaching-talent yet to be fully discovered. With opportunities surfacing and abound, recognition coming his way, being truly discovered by the basketball gods is only a matter of the tic-toc of the clock. Having personally worked with him the last two years, there is no doubt this "papa's" stone is still rolling -- and wherever he decides to lay his hat -- it is always his home.
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World Basketball Association Stories from August 23, 2005
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