William Leon Garrett

Photo credit: Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame

William Leon Garrett
(April 4, 1929 – August 9, 1974)

Garrett was a basketball player, coach, educator, and a college administrator who is best known as the first African American to regularly play on a Big Ten Conference varsity basketball team. Prior to becoming a college player for IU (1947-51), Garrett led his Shelbyville High School basketball team to its first state basketball championship in 1947 and he was named Indiana Mr. Basketball. In 1959, Garrett coached Indianapolis’ Crispus Attucks High School boys’ basketball team to the state high school basketball championship title, making him the only Indiana Mr. Basketball to win a state championship as a player and as a coach.

The Boston Celtics chose Garrett in the second round of the 1951 National Basketball Association draft, but he was drafted into the US Army and released from the Celtics without playing in an NBA game. After completing his military service in 1953, Garrett played exhibition games for the Harlem Globetrotters for less than two years before becoming a basketball coach and educator in Indianapolis.

In his later years, Garrett served as a coach and athletic director at Crispus Attucks High School, an instructor at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, and assistant dean for student services for Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Garrett was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1974.

Location: Section 211, Lot 1163; GPS (39.8257865, -86.1800781)