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Five-star basketball recruit Darius Garland officially commits to Vanderbilt

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Five-star basketball recruit Darius Garland officially commits to Vanderbilt

Max Schneider, Associate Sports Editor

It’s official.  Darius Garland won’t be traveling too far from home to play his college basketball.  The Tennessee native announced his commitment to Vanderbilt today at Brentwood Academy, Garland’s high school just miles outside of Nashville.

“Me and Bryce Drew had a long conversation,” said Garland.  “We’ve known each other for a while now.  It was the best fit for me.  We’re trying to just change the culture around.  Before I got here, they said that Memorial Gym was packed all the time, every game.  I’m just trying to get back to that.”

Garland is the 11th-ranked recruit overall and the No. 2 point guard in the Class of 2018, according to ESPN, making him the highest-ranked basketball recruit to ever come to Vanderbilt.

The five-star point guard was proud to have that designation.

“I like it a lot,” Garland told the Vanderbilt Hustler.  “Everybody goes to Duke or Kentucky.  I just want to make a change in the SEC and hopefully make it to the tournament.”

Vanderbilt head coach Bryce Drew was ecstatic to land Garland, a guy he had his eye on ever since he took the job in Nashville.  To hear Garland commit last Friday in person was a special feeling for him.

“I never thought I’d be going to Vanderbilt until Coach Drew got here,” said Garland after the decision.  “Him and Coach [Jake] Diebler came over into the school Friday, and when I told them the news, both of them started crying.”

Drew and Garland have a history that goes way beyond Vanderbilt basketball.  His brother, Miguel, was an assistant coach for Drew at Valparaiso.  Back when Garland was in third grade, he went to Bryce Drew’s basketball camps.

“I went to camp my third grade year, and I just fell in love with Coach Drew,” Garland said. “When he got the Vanderbilt job, I thought about it for a long time.”

Garland is a guy who has turned heads both in his time at Brentwood and over this past summer.  Scouts laud him as a guy who has excellent handles, can shoot the lights out from anywhere in the gym, and is the best passer in this class.

“He could have called any coach and said I want to come and he could have gone.  Nobody would have turned him down,” said Hubie Smith, Garland’s high school coach at Brentwood Academy.  “He’s a great player, highly skilled, highly competitive, as good a shooter and ball handler, and I think the best thing he does is pass.  That doesn’t ever get talked about.  I’ve coached for 35 years, so I’ve been pretty familiar with Vanderbilt my entire life.  I think he’s as skilled as any kid that’s probably ever come out of Tennessee.”

Garland picked the Commodores over Indiana, Kentucky, Duke, and UCLA, citing the Bruins as his second choice.  The 6’1 point guard might be the top recruit in the program’s history, but Bryce Drew is by no means done with building his recruiting class.  Romeo Langford (No. 1 SG, No. 5 overall) and Simi Shittu (No. 1 PF, No. 6 overall) both have Vanderbilt on their shortlists, and have been in close contact with Garland throughout this process.

“Me and Simi have been talking a lot.  Me and Romeo, we stay connected.  We played together over the summer, so hopefully we can get those guys.”

When asked what he’ll say to those two, Garland gave a simple answer.

“Anchor down.  Come on, let’s get it rolling.”

He should fit in perfectly here in Nashville.

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