BREAKING: Darius Garland drafted 5th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers

Becomes the highest drafted Vanderbilt player in over 50 years.


Max Schneider, Sports Editor

Darius Garland may have played just four full games at Vanderbilt, but that didn’t stop him from flying off the draft board.

On Thursday night, the former Vanderbilt Commodore and Nashville native was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 5th overall pick in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft. Garland is the first Vanderbilt player drafted in the first round since 2016 and is the highest draft pick the school has had since Clyde Lee (3rd overall) in 1966.

“I’m speechless. I’m really excited,” said Garland. “I can’t wait to get to Cleveland and start working. This is the best moment ever. It’s always been a dream of mine.”

It’s been an unorthodox road to the NBA for Garland. The three-time Tennessee State Player of the Year at Brentwood Academy decided to stay home for college, opting to go to Vanderbilt over the likes of traditional “blue blood” programs such as Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, and UCLA. However, just two minutes into the fifth game of his college basketball career, Garland landed awkwardly after a layup, tearing his meniscus and sidelining him for the rest of the year.

“Not being on the court for a while, as someone who loves the game, is really hard,” Garland said. “I got over the hump and I’m 100% now, that’s in the past, and I’m ready to take the next step and start working.”

Leading up to the draft, there was a lot of speculation over where the 6’2” point guard would find his new home. An early exit at the NBA Combine led executives around the league to believe that a team early in the lottery had promised Garland his draft slot. Garland also previously stated that his only workouts included those with the Cavaliers, the Lakers, the Chicago Bulls, and then a last minute workout with the New York Knicks yesterday morning.

The Cavaliers explored trading the fifth pick throughout the early part of the night, but ultimately no offer was enough to stop the Cavaliers from getting their guy in Garland. He will be paired with Cleveland’s first round pick last year in Collin Sexton, who also plays the point guard position.

“I think me and Collin [Sexton] will play really well together,” said Garland. “You see Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum playing really well, playing in the playoffs. The future is really bright for us.”

“I think he’s going to be a great pro,” said New York Knicks guard John Jenkins, who also starred at Vanderbilt. “Sees the game well, super quick, has a great jumper and good feel for the game. He’s the real deal.”

Even with just four full games under his belt, it’s easy to see why Garland impressed NBA executives. He averaged 19.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game in those four contests. He was the centerpiece of Bryce Drew’s offense, an offense that Drew said was “built for Darius Garland.”

And even though Drew has been relieved of his duties at Vanderbilt, he was right by Garland’s side when his former player heard his name called on this Thursday night in Brooklyn.

“It was really good to see him,” Garland said of his former coach. “I hadn’t seen him in a while, so just catching up with him, having great conversations, and just remembering the past and what we had at that short time at Vanderbilt. It was really fun.”

Now, Garland plays for a new coach, and John Beilein knows he has his point guard of the future.

This story will continue to be updated as The Vanderbilt Hustler receives more information.