Spartan Center Garrick Sherman is Ready to March

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Sherman has started the season on fire.  Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

Sherman has started the season on fire. Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

 

If you were to take a trip across America’s countryside, you would see the old farmhouses and Oak Trees that trigger memories of Norman Rockwell. Each old magnificent home holds the history of Americana, and each tree can tell of generations of young people who climbed those limbs, and the memories each family has had under its leaves. It is as American as apple pie.

 

If you take a drive in Kenton, Ohio, you will see those homes. You will see the rural America of which I speak. On one such farm, the Sherman Farm, you will see one of those magnificent Oak Trees. According to David Sherman he estimates it to be 300-400 years old.

 

That’s fitting, considering he sent his 6’10” son Garrick to the Spartan Nation, as rooted as that tree, to pursue a degree in agriculture and a career in basketball as he plays for the green and white. This young man has the type of character and integrity that is the epitome of the “boy next door.” The kind of young man fathers want their sons to be like, and mothers want their daughters to marry.

 

“MSU has such a great agricultural program, and that definitely was important to me when I chose to come here,” was how Garrick described his choice to become a Spartan. Sherman was underutilized in his freshman season, and if the Spartans want to reach their goal of not just making a Final Four in 2011, but winning it all, his minutes have to increase.

 

“I have to get more aggressive. I have to go up and dunk the ball and do those things that make me a better player,” Sherman told Spartan Nation Radio recently.

 

Sherman has worked hard this off-season as his Spartans prepare for a season in which many think they are a favorite to tear down the nets and win the program’s third national title. That work ethic comes naturally to him. His parents David and Mary are successful farmers in Kenton, Ohio, and the twenty-hour days of tough agrarian work have certainly rubbed off on their son.

 

“My father worked so hard to give us the life he did. His work ethic was always impressive to me, and I am so proud of him,” Sherman described.

 

As much as this 6’10” young man looks up to his 6’6” father, his little bundle-of-energy of a mother holds just as much influence.  “She is a great woman. I think it has been special as I moved away and began growing up to see her maybe a little differently, and she means a lot to me.”

 

David may be the plainspoken father, but he takes time to reflect on the praise that his son gives him. “I sometimes worried and felt guilty with the hours I had to work. I missed a lot, but I look at where Garrick is today and what he said, and I am glad he turned out aware of that, and appreciative.”

 

Mary holds just as much appreciation, but the emotion is more than just spoken. When I told her what her son said her reaction was delayed, as she “had to grab a Kleenex.” She was more reflective when after using it she said, “The dynamics have changed since he came to East Lansing. The joke around here is Garrick is now my favorite. Now he actually calls and asks for advice. I dispensed advice before he asked. Everything you do is to raise your kids the right way as a parent. You want them to be happy, and that makes me feel happy.”

 

David Sherman’s appreciation for his son runs deep like the oak tree that stands like a magnificent statue on his farm. A deep man, like his son, he chooses his words before and speaks carefully. “Garrick spent so much time playing sports, I thought he got short changed out of the farm experience growing up. We needed him, but I wanted to support his dream.”

 

People who farm are used to looking for signs, whether it’s a sign to plant, or clue to harvest. Thankfully for Garrick, his parents’ honed skills of perception were evident with his athletic gifts. Mary said of her son’s natural God-given talent, “He always had it. It was like breathing. He always had the ability. He would always ask me to come watch, he had such a smoothness and grace. We would go places even when he was in high school, and others were shocked at his ability. He used to constantly ask me to observe him play, and I would set the timer for twenty-minutes because I had other children (Grant and Kathryn) and things to do. He was so naturally talented.”

 

Garrick’s modesty comes from his parents, but his father doesn’t hesitate to brag on his son’s talent and how it revealed itself to him. David said, “We spent a lot of hours in the driveway, his little brother Grant and I against him. There were several times he would prevail. All through the AAU circuit, there were several players that would compete with him, but never beat him. Garrick is a special talent.”

 

“My parents were always there to encourage me to work harder. I owe them a lot of credit because they never tried to stop my dream or to take away from it. For that I am really fortunate,” Garrick reflected.

 

Sherman was recruited heavily by most of the Big Ten, and many national powers, before choosing MSU. They all saw a big man that reminded them of Bill Laimbeer. They saw his ability to move with or without the ball. 

 

Bo Ryan, the arch nemesis of Tom Izzo who always does a great job of developing big men immediately, recognized a big that could play at the three, the four, and the five. Izzo primarily used Sherman at the five in his freshman campaign, but undoubtedly will have to broaden the scope of Sherman’s duties as his game and body mature.

 

Garrick loves basketball, but he’s much more than just a basketball player. He is going after a degree in agriculture just as he plays basketball in one of the most successful programs in the nation. His thoughts are never far from the farm.

 

“I want to play basketball as long as I can. I do love the game and have worked so hard at it, but when those days are done I definitely want to go back to the farm. The way I was raised and how I was raised means so much to me, and one day I want to go back,” Garrick said, about life after basketball.

 

Sherman is a great basketball player, but a better person. He shares with Tom Izzo a love of football, but basketball is what has brought him this far. Like that oak tree on his parents’ farm, he has deep roots. He isn’t one to follow the crowd or to flinch from right and wrong. In a time when it is fashionable to be critical of college athletes, Garrick Sherman stands for all that’s good in college athletics.

 

If the Spartans have any chance of winning another title in 2011, he will have to be a major contributor. He can control how he plays, but his head coach controls how much. He has worked on his part this summer.

 

No matter how the statistics stand when his career at MSU is over, this we know. Like his mother Mary and his father David, Garrick Sherman will have even deeper roots, and the Spartan Nation will be better for having him.

 

He may be the pride of Kenton, but he stands out as a role model for all of the Spartan Nation. The next time you hear of a college athlete doing something stupid, or choosing the wrong road…the next time someone tells you that today’s kids don’t get it…think of Garrick Sherman, one of the all-time great young men to wear the green and white.

 

Sherman said it best. “I have a responsibility to my family, my hometown, and the Spartan Nation to be the best I can be, and I take that seriously on and off the court.”

 

He’s ready. He has done what he needs to do. Sherman is ready to march. 

 

THIS ARTICLE IS REPRINTED FROM THE SEPTEMBER SPARTAN NATION MAGAZINE.