Ott-Large to hoop for Saint Francis
A knee injury at the end of his freshman season slowed Garrott Ott-Large's on-court development, but the experience did more for the La Porte senior than he could have ever imagined. "Going through the adversity, it took me to another level, mentally, physically, emotionally, that I never knew I had in me," Ott-Large said. "My freshman year, I didn't lift a lot. Now I'm so much stronger. From a young age, my parents said hard work will pay off in the long run. I never took a practice, a game, for granted, but after I had it taken away, I was always going to play my hardest, give it my best." The 6-foot-3 shooting guard showed it this season, averaging 17.6 points per game for the Slicers. The exclamation point to his 1,125-point prep career helped Ott-Large earn a scholarship to NAIA Saint Francis University in Fort Wayne. "Playing college basketball is a dream come true," said Ott-Large, who made his verbal commitment Thursday via a Zoom meeting with coach Chad LaCross and staff. "The size of the school wasn't of much importance. It's what was the best fit for me to be academically successful and to have the opportunity to play basketball for a great program that has a chance every year to compete for a conference and national championship." Ott-Large also considered Goshen and NCAA Division III Wabash before choosing Saint Francis. While he didn't get an official visit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ott-Large was familiar with the campus and talked to the coaches last summer when he was there for an AAU tournament. Proximity to home -- the school is less than two hours from La Porte -- was important, giving him the chance to still see his brothers Grant, a sophomore, and Griffin, a fifth grader, play sports. In addition, his cousin, Riley Ott, is 15 minutes away at Purdue Fort Wayne, where she is on the women's basketball team. "I always wanted to stay close to home," Ott-Large said. "I can come home on Friday night and go back Saturday morning. I felt really comfortable with the coaching staff. I already know some of the players. Brayton Bailey and I play AAU (EG 10 Basketball Club) together. He's been one of my best friends for five, six years. I love playing with him. I'm glad it's worked out for both of us." Saint Francis is a member of the NAIA powerhouse Crossroads Conference that includes Indiana Wesleyan and Bethel, both coached by former La Porte players, Greg Tonagel and Steve Drabyn. Indiana Wesleyan (two), Marian (six), Grace (13), Saint Francis (18) and Spring Arbor (19) were all nationally ranked this season with Bethel receiving votes. The Cougars (21-11, 9-9), who won their NAIA tournament opener before the balance of it was cancelled, returns its top three scorers and four of its five starters next season. "It's one of the best conferences in the country, I think, at any level," Ott-Large said. "It'll be an adjustment, the size, the speed, the quickness, but I've played with a lot of college-level people. Now I'll be doing it on a nightly basis. It's nothing I can't handle. With hard work and determination, anything is possible. I hope it comes quick." While the quarantine has forced a lot of athletes to find creative ways to stay sharp, Ott-Large is fortunate to have a half-court set-up in his back yard and daily access to facilities at Bill Land's home that include a full gym and weight room in his barn. "I always go there," Ott-Large said. "It can be 11 at night, 4 a.m., if I can't fall back asleep, and I'll just text him so he knows someone's there. It's usually me and my brothers, (classmate) Grant Gresham and (La Porte grad) Peyton Marker." The old saying, it takes a village to raise a child, also applies to many athletes in their pursuit of making it to the next level. "My family has been my biggest support system, my parents, brothers, grandma, grandpa, cousins," Ott-Large said. "All the people in my close circle who have supported me, to be the best I can be, this wouldn't be possible without them." Ott-Large isn't firm on a major, but is leaning toward the business field, possibly sports management or marketing. He's also looking into Physical Therapy -- his mom Shari is a physical therapist -- and Exercise Science.
La Porte's Garrott Ott-Large has verbally committed to play for Saint Francis University, an NAIA school in Fort Wayne. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard became just the 11th Slicer in program history to score over 1,000 points in his career.