In the early 1970s, having helped his Kansas City high school to success, Daryel Garrison couldn’t believe it.

An assistant coach from Missouri State University had stopped by the local summer playground to see about talent. It turned out that Charlie Spoonhour (MSHOF Legend 2019), years before his folksy humor and basketball success won over the Ozarks, was the only white man around.

Little did Garrison know that Spoonhour was there to recruit him.

“I was shocked,” Garrison said. “A coach that was interested in me? It meant a lot. Charlie, (assistant) Jay Kinzer and Coach (Bill) Thomas … it was just their presence that made me want to play for those guys.”

Not only did Garrison play for them, but he became a star. And that’s why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame proudly inducted Garrison with the Class of 2023.

Garrison left a legacy as the all-time leading scorer of the Missouri State men’s basketball program, scoring 1,975 points from 1971 to 1975. In fact, the school later retired his jersey – one of just four men’s basketball players to hold that honor – following a career full of accolades.

He was a four-year starter, earning First Team All-MIAA honors three times. Missouri State also won MIAA championships in 1973 and 1974, with both teams advancing to the NCAA Division II Tournament. The 1974 squad reached the national finals, where it lost to Morgan State in Evansville, Ind.

Garrison still holds program records for most 20-point games (46) and field goal attempts (1,755). He also ranks eighth all-time in MIAA career scoring. For his career, Garrison averaged 18.5 points per game.

All this from a player who, at one point, received an invitation from the National Football League’s Dallas Cowboys to attend a tryout – the team was seeking pure athletes – before Garrison realized that even accepting a plane ticket would have derailed his NCAA eligibility.

That came while he was on the verge of heading to Missouri State.

Garrison started almost from the jump, and became the team’s leading scorer five games into his freshman season. And the points kept piling up from there.

“Shooting 2s,” Garrison pointed out.

What made Garrison a talent was that he also played defense.

Then again, it was standard operating procedure for Garrison, who had played at Kansas City’s Sumner High School in Kansas, with the team 62-7 in his final three seasons – including 23-0 his sophomore season.

“Our goal was to stop our player first,” Garrison said, and later added something that said everything about his prowess at Missouri State. “I was happy to get 25 points a game. But I knew I wanted to play a balanced game. I wanted my rebounds and assists to be a part of my game. If were winning, that’s going to make all of us look better.”

Some of his most special games? Try the night he made 20 of 22 field goals and scored 40 points.

“It was one of those nights where I couldn’t miss,” Garrison said. “That was pretty amazing for me.”

Garrison certainly came a long way athletically, given some of the challenges in his personal life.

“For me, in the eighth grade, my mom was very religious and wouldn’t let us kids leave the house unless we were going to church,” Garrison said.

Fortunately, Sumner coach Craig Hall sensed Garrison’s talent could be a factor. He introduced him to the eighth-grade physical education teacher, who also coached basketball.

Teammates from that year and on fueled Sumner’s success, and several also played collegiately.

Looking back, he credits so many mentors for his success.

Among them was Hall.

“He was everything to me,” Garrison said. “He put me in the right positions.”

At Missouri State, there was Kinzer, Spoonhour and Thomas. Another was childhood friend Dennis Hill, a player at Sumner who later transferred to Missouri State. So many others made a difference, too, such as Charlie Moore, Randy Magers, stepdad Roland and Mom Doris.

Ten siblings toughened him up, too: Brothers Harvey, Lawrence, Roland, Arthur, Timothy and sisters Lawana, Angelita and Lisa.

Garrison later worked for federal prisons as an education and recreation program director, and worked for the Kansas City, Kan., School District in a similar role to help youths reach their potential. His Kids Zone program covers 33 elementary schools. He also is a dad to Camiele Garrison.

“It’s just been a wonderful life,” Garrison said. “I had a lot of offers to coach. But I wanted to work with kids on a different level.”