Says The Athletic:
Gary Williams, who coached at Maryland from 1989 to 2011, first saw Garnett play on the summer grassroots circuit and said his intensity, especially on the defensive end, immediately stood out.
“You didn’t have to be a genius,” Williams said. “The thing that separated Kevin in my mind was the effort he put out there on the court. Especially in AAU, (if) you see a great player who knows he’s going to be a great player, (he’ll often) go through the motions. With Kevin, that’s what I always thought separated him. Every time he took the court, how hard he played showed he really respected the game.”
Williams and Maryland got in early with Garnett, securing in-home visits with him and his mother, Shirley, during his junior year of high school. Williams tried to sell Garnett on the prospect of replacing Joe Smith, who was the 1995 National Player of the Year and would go on to be the No. 1 overall pick in that year’s NBA Draft, four picks before Garnett.
“Kevin saw the way Joe played for us and liked that,” Williams said.
When Garnett left for Chicago, Williams figured that Maryland’s chances of landing him diminished significantly. Chicago was a hotbed for hoops, one of the country’s largest markets and the epicenter of the Big Ten Conference. That would mean more exposure for Garnett and closer proximity to programs like Michigan and Michigan State.