NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Darius Garland only played four and a half games with Vanderbilt before a torn MCL sidelined him for the rest of his freshman season. But his college coach, Bryce Drew, saw enough to see why he is widely considered a likely top five pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft.
“The make up of Darius Garland is special,” Drew said on NewsChannel 5 at 10 Monday night. “He came from a NBA father. He grew up in the gym. At age three he was dribbling the ball the length of the court. He just has the star attributes you want in a player and especially in a point guard.”
Garland was a standout point guard at Brentwood Academy that earned Mr. Basketball honors in the state. As a five-star recruit, he became the highest level recruit in Vanderbilt history, and was an immediate splash on the court.
He averaged 16.8 points per game while dishing out nearly three assists and grabbing four rebounds in his short stint with the Commodores before suffering the knee injury.
“He has extreme confidence,” Drew said of what he learned about Garland in his limited time coaching him. “He has the ability to see and hit anybody on the floor at any moment. He has the ability to win games by scoring the basketball and he has the ability to win games by leading his teammates.”
Garland’s absence was certainly felt as Vandy struggled mightily without him the rest of the season, eventually costing Drew and the coaching staff their jobs. He spent much of the winter rehabbing and then training for the NBA pre-draft camps where he excelled, showing his explosiveness and unique ability to score the basketball from all over the floor.
Garland is expected to be one of the first point guards taken in the draft, perhaps as high as no. four overall to the Pelicans. That would make him the highest Nashville player ever selected in the NBA Draft, which comes as no surprise to his old coach.
“He has NBA star potential,” Drew said.