With March Madness and the NIT upon us, being able to speak with former players gives us writers a rare opportunity to get in the mind of athletes who have already experienced these things. It hits especially close to home when you get to speak with a former Maryland Terrapin, and even more so when the player you interview is a hometown kid you grew up watching. Enter Travis Garrison.
Travis Garrison, a Suitland, Md. native and former DeMatha Stag, played for the Terrapins from 2002-2005. The former McDonald’s All-American had both ups and downs during his time as a Terp, from reaching the NCAA tournament, beating Duke, and playing in the NIT as well. His experience playing under some seriously incredible coaches like Morgan Wooten and Gary Williams shaped who he is as a man.
A current professional baller playing overseas in Greece for Illsiakos, Garrison took some time out of his busy schedule to speak with TerrapinStationMD about life during and after Maryland, the NCAA tournament, and coaching experiences.
TerrapinStationMD: You got to work with Morgan Wooten over at DeMatha and Gary Williams at Maryland, two Hall of Fame caliber coaches with different mentalities. How do the two compare with one another and what kind of experiences did you have with both of them?
Travis Garrison: Both were GREAT coaches, with different styles of coaching but both looking for the same result. Coach Williams was very intense, and everybody could see him yelling and things, but also trying to motivate his players. Whereas with Coach Wooten, you seldom see him yelling, but he sometimes used sarcasm and words to get the result he wanted from his players. But the things [Wooten] said would equal the yelling of Coach Williams. *Chuckles* Coach Wooten was also a teacher of life as well, like how you should conduct yourself on and off the court. Coach Williams also cared about his players too; he wanted you to maximize your potential and talents to the fullest. But both are GREAT coaches, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to play under both.
TerrapinStationMD: You were a McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school. What kind of pressure does that label bring to a freshman in college? Did you feel added pressure to perform greatly right away?
Travis Garrison: Being a McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school did add pressure, but pressure that, at the time, I thought I was ready for and wanted. And I felt like I had something to prove because of it. I did feel pressure to perform great right away, because of the hype and anticipation that followed me to College Park. And because of the members of my class that were performing well as Freshmen. Players like Carmelo [Anthony] and Chris Bosh to name a few. So I felt as though I had to match their play.
I believe I disappointed myself more than I did the fans at Maryland, because I didn’t take basketball very seriously like I did in high school. I didn’t work out as much, I wasn’t as focused. I got caught up in being a Maryland Basketball player, rather than trying to make a legacy for myself there. I was living off the hype, but not playing like it. I also got caught up in reading the blogs, and reading about myself in the papers, and it was a distraction for me. I became more focused on trying to make everybody so happy that I started suffering from depression.
TerrapinStationMD: If you had to peg one moment at Maryland as your favorite one, what would it be?
Travis Garrison: My favorite Maryland moment? Well, I have to name two. First,the run we had in the ACC tourney in 2004 to win it all. And the second is every time we beat Duke.
TerrapinStationMD: You had the honor of playing in the NCAA tournament as well as the NIT. How do the two differ? Is there any less pressure and excitement playing in the NIT than the NCAA tournament?
Travis Garrison: Well I think everybody would love to be playing in the NCAA tourney. I think the NIT was less exciting than the NCAA to me. I say that because of the tradition of Maryland at the time; always going to the NCAA tourney and winning the championship the year before I arrived [in 2002]. I believe we took it as a disappointed and that we let the university down. Well, I felt like I let the university and the fans down.
TerrapinStationMD: What do you think of the direction Maryland is heading in currently? How do you feel about Mark Turgeon and the move to the Big Ten?
Travis Garrison: I believe Maryland team is heading in a good direction as far as their play and talent as a team. For the first time this past summer I sat down and spoke to Coach Turgeon. I felt his passion about his team, and what his goals were. And even for alums like myself, he spoke about wanting to have us around more and involved. So I think the Maryland team is heading in a great direction. I will have to wait and see about the move to the Big 10.It’s still is a little weird to me,not seeing Maryland in the ACC.
TerrapinStationMD: And most importantly, what has life been like after Maryland for Travis Garrison? Update us. What are you doing now and what are your current goals?
Travis Garrison: Life after Maryland has been very adventurous.
After leaving Maryland and working out for some NBA teams, and that not working out, I went to play overseas. And I’m currently still playing. I have played in South Korea, Spain, Venezuela, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Greece. This is my second year playing in Greece, and I am on the team with former Terp Terrell Stoglin, who is a great talent. And this year we have played against several former Terps, like James Gist, Landon Milbourne and Bambale “Boom” Osby. So, my journey with basketball is not over.
I have also written a book that was published August 22nd 2012, titled “Never Satisfied: An Athlete’s Battle”. In this book I talk about my journey through basketball, from where I started to where I am now. I talk about all my ups and downs, and things I struggled with.
I wrote the book to try and help young kids and adults to learn about what I went through and the mistakes I have made so that way they will not have to make those same mistakes. I tell my story, and at the end of each chapter I speak with the parent and the kid about the mistakes I made and the things I have learned from them. And about how they can avoid those same mistakes. The book website is www.neversatisfiedtg.com.
My current goal is to be the best basketball player I can be from here on out, and to help as many young kids and athletes not make those same mistakes I have made. Also during my off-time, I try to help those that are unfortunate, or troubled kids. That’s my passion.
We want to extend a huge thank you to Travis Garrison for his time, and really appreciate the insight he’s given us. Make sure you wish Travis good luck whenever you encounter him, and rub in the fact that Bishop O’Connell won the WCAC Championship in basketball this year and DeMatha didn’t.