DePaul freshman Billy Garrett Jr. was named Big East rookie of the year Wednesday, the second time in the last four years a Blue Demon has won the honor.
Garrett Jr. was the highest scoring freshman in the conference and was honored five times during the season for weekly honors, the most among all freshmen.
“I first want to thank my family and coach [Oliver] Purnell for giving me the opportunity to perform this year,’’ Garrett Jr. said at a news conference in Madison Square Garden where the conference tournament is held this week. “All the way back to last summer he told me what it would take to be successful, and I used that throughout the year. I thank my family and coach Purnell.’’
The Chicago native who starred on Morgan Park’s championship team last year joins Cleveland Melvin in winning the honor. Melvin won the honor in 2011.
“For Bill to be mentioned in the same breath as some of the guys who came before him, like Allen Iverson and Patrick Ewing and those kids, it’s an honor because the Big East Conference has been so good for so long,’’ said his father, DePaul assistant coach Billy Garrett. “It’s a prestigious honor. I’m happy for him.
“I don’t know if Oliver saw this coming. He talked to him way back in the summer. [Billy] worked hard and I’m glad for him to be here.’’
The 6-5 point guard was DePaul’s second leading scorer behind senior Brandon Young, averaging 12.4 points and 3.1 assists per game.
“It’s a nice prize in the tough year we’ve had,’’ Garrett Jr. said. “It’s an honor to be named rookie of the year in a prestigious conference like the Big East. It’s definitely a great feeling to be named, and it’s a humbling experience, but we have to look forward to a win [Wednesday night vs. Georgetown.]
“Once the season ends we have to look to next year and look to ways that I can improve my game. I definitely want to build on it because after tonight, no one will care I won this award so I have to make sure I better and prove it every night.’’