Tyrone Garland left because of what he termed “distractions.”
He came back because of what he termed “family.”
The process took a bit of a circuitous route for the talented La Salle guard. It started at Virginia Tech before Garland realized his heart never left Philadelphia. Good thing, too.
La Salle, a No. 13 seed which had to beat Boise State in a First Four matchup, advanced to the Sweet 16 after posting wins against No. 4 Kansas State and No. 12 Mississippi. It’s the deepest run for the Explorers since getting to the title game in 1955 when the field consisted of just 24 teams.
Garland’s “Southwest Philly Floater” in the waning seconds lifted the Explorers on Sunday. It also lifted an entire program, which has been through some tumultuous times in the last decade.
“I kind of thought it would have been best if I went to Virginia Tech because of distractions around here,” Garland said on Selection Sunday after La Salle learned it was in the field of 68 for the first time since 1992. “It was such a tough decision. I decided to get away from everything. It didn’t take long for me to realize I wanted to be back with my family. I made the right choice coming back. Look at how it has worked out.”
La Salle will play No. 9 Wichita State on Thursday night at 10:17 p.m. at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Win that one and the Explorers are in, wait for it, the Elite Eight.
In order for any team to get as far as the Sweet 16, it needs these types of performances from a number of players. Tyreek Duren, Jerrell Wright, Sam Mills and Ramon Galloway have also contributed in a huge way. This time, it was Garland’s turn.
When Garland was pondering a transfer, it was La Salle coach John Giannini who told him coming back home would be an ideal fit.
“Coach was right,” said Garland, who scored an eye-popping 2,198 points for Bartram High in the Public League. “He said it would be a good situation if I came in and just worked hard. Having the support from home would be beneficial. It’s been great for me. I’ve embraced it all and I couldn’t be happier at La Salle. I’m so happy for the program. I’m having fun. We all get along and enjoy playing basketball together. You can see it because of the flow we all have on the court.”
That flow continues on as La Salle looks to march forward in a stunning tournament run.
“I am a very confident player and I believe in our team,” Garland said last week. “I believe we can make a run.”
Next stop, Los Angeles.