Darius Garland withdraws from Vanderbilt to enter NBA Draft


Photo by Shun Ahmed

Cutler Klein, Sports Editor

Vanderbilt Basketball’s best recruit of all time is already on his way to the National Basketball Association.

Freshman point guard Darius Garland announced that he has withdrawn from Vanderbilt in order to focus on the 2019 NBA Draft. He was ruled out for the season in November after having surgery on a torn meniscus. Garland played just four full games for the Commodores.

“My knee injury robbed me of my freshman season at Vanderbilt, and it took an emotional toll on myself, my family and my teammates,” Garland said in a letter on VUCommodores.com. I quickly learned that life does not always follow a script. In fact, adversity can hit when you least expect it.”

Garland, a five-star recruit out of Brentwood Academy, was a rising star for the Commodores in the early parts of the 2018-19 season, averaging 16.2 points per game and scoring a career-high 33 against Liberty on November 19. He suffered a torn meniscus in the opening minutes of the game against Kent State on November 23.

In the latest NBA mock drafts, Garland is almost universally projected as a lottery pick, with outlets such as ESPN, Sports Illustrated, The Athletic and Bleacher Report all projecting him in the top 10. HoopsHype’s aggregate mock draft places him as the ninth-best prospect in this year’s draft.

“This decision was not an easy one due to my love for Vanderbilt, my teammates, Coach Drew, and his staff,” Garland said. “I am beyond thankful for the opportunity they have afforded me at Vanderbilt. Current NBA rules allow me the immediate opportunity to pursue my ultimate dream of playing professional basketball — which, for me, is a chance of a lifetime. Having discussed my options with my family and Coach Drew, I know this is the right move at the right time.”

Garland also said he intends to return to Vanderbilt in the future to finish his degree.

The Commodores have skidded since Garland’s injury and have started SEC play with five losses with top-ranked Tennessee coming to Memorial Gym on Wednesday night.