Darius Garland is projected by many to be a top-five pick, but is a bit of an unknown after missing most of the season with an injury. Garland sustained a meniscus injury in his left knee last November in Vanderbilt’s game against Kent State. The Vanderbilt point guard underwent surgery to repair the injury.
“Darius had a very successful surgery, and will be better than ever when he returns,” former Vanderbilt head coach Bryce Drew said, per ESPN. “Unfortunately, he will be out for the remainder of this season.”
Garland played in just five college basketball games this season before suffering the injury. The point guard averaged 16.2 points, 2.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds. It is worth noting the averages are a bit skewed as he only played two minutes in his last game against Kent State.
The point guard posted 33 points, four assists and four rebounds against Liberty. Garland also had 24 points and four assists against Winthrop in Vanderbilt’s season-opener.
Garland Looks to Be Back to Basketball Activities
It looks like Garland is back on the basketball court as the point guard posted several photos in the gym.
“Don’t count the days, make the days count. COMEBACK SZN?,” Garland posted on Instagram.
Garland also told NCAA.com’s Andy Katz that he is “good to go.”
“Darius Garland told us he left @VandyMBB once he got hurt for business reasons. He said he hopes his injury won’t hurt his status in the lottery. He said he’s good to go. He said what he missed most this season was being with his peers,” Katz tweeted.
CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein reported that several NBA executives admit to having Garland in their top five.
“Several NBA executives have Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland rated fourth on their big board for the 2019 NBA Draft. 6-2 PG only played five games last season due to injury. Shot 58 percent from the field during that span and 47.8 percent from 3,” Rothstein tweeted.
Garland Is Part of Klutch Sports Run by LeBron’s Friend, Rich Paul
Some are penciling in Garland to the Lakers at No. 4. An interesting subplot is that Garland signed with Klutch Sports, the agency started by LeBron James childhood friend Rich Paul. Could there be a behind-the-scenes push for the Lakers to draft Garland, even though L.A. already has Lonzo Ball.
“Welcome Darius Garland to our 2019 Draft Class! @dariusgarland22,” Klutch Sports tweeted back in February.
ESPN’s Jonathan Givony called Garland a “strong fit” next to James and Ball. Givony also noted there are questions about his passing ability compared to his propensity for turning the ball over.
Garland’s slender frame, negative assist-to-turnover ratio and lack of experience at the college level are things he’ll have to address during the pre-draft process, but he’s a natural option here.
Garland is a strong fit alongside Lonzo Ball and LeBron James. The Lakers need more shot creation and shot-making on their roster, and Garland is a good fit here. The fact that he shares the same agent as James probably won’t hurt.