|Freshman||6’2″ 170||Point Guard||Vanderbilt||19 Yrs. Old|
|16.2 ppg||3.8 rpg||2.6 apg||FG: 53.7%||3 PT: 47.8%|
NBA Comparison: George Hill
Strengths: Outside shooting, End to end speed, Ball handling, Creating Shots
Weaknesses: Strength, Durability, Lack of experience after missing most of his freshman season
Vanderbilt had the best recruiting class in their history arrive on campus in the beginning of the season, led by Simisola Shittu, and Darius Garland. Their season was a disaster, with Garland going down after injuring his knee, and coach Bryce Drew was fired. Previous to the injury, the freshman played well in five games, with only one bad game against Alcorn State. The most intriguing aspect of what Garland showed in those games was his ability to hit outside shots, and that his range extends well beyond the NBA three point line. Whether it is coming off a pass from a teammate, or creating his own shot, Garland can knock them down with a high level of efficiency. The ball is on a string when it is in his hands, allowing him to make a move and then use his quickness to get by a defender going to the basket. His ability to finish at the rim is somewhat limited due to his lack of strength, but he knows how to use his body and get to the free throw line. With his ball handling skill and his top end speed he should immediately be able to get by defenders on the fast break leading to a shot or dishing it to a teammate. Of course any athletic and speed based potential of Garland’s game will need to be a wait and see type of situation with him coming back from the knee injury. If he is able to return to the same player he was pre-injury, he showed he was going to be a star in his freshman season. Whether or not this injury is a hindrance to his career, there will be questions about his durability, as there are with any player coming off of a season ending injury. His assists numbers were not great, but that could partly be due to the talent around him, and he has shown he can distribute the basketball. Once surrounded by NBA level shooters, he will be able to get assists, especially in fast break situations with defenses looking to close out on him anytime he is open. Defensively he could struggle against bigger guards, but he also can get by slower defenders so that would go both ways.
Below is a shot he hit while holding the ball for the last shot of the half:
Darius Garland nails a step-back to give Vanderbilt a 47-40 lead over Winthrop at the half. Highlights and more to come on the @wherald later tonight. Garland has 13 points and three assists. pic.twitter.com/Pts0KRL0ea— Charles Pulliam (@cspulliam) November 7, 2018
Garland is a lock to go in the first round, as long as NBA teams feel confident that his injury is not career threatening. His ability to shoot the three point shot at an efficient level is not something that every guard possesses, and with more than adequate athleticism, could place him as the second or third point guard taken. His ceiling in the league would be a starter level point guard, and if he slips to after the lottery in the first round, a team could be getting a steal providing his health is no concern. His worst case scenario would be that his knee injury continues to give him problems, or that he finds his 6’2″ 170 frame prevents him from being the scorer he is projected to be. As long as he is able to get his shot off against professional level defense, Garland should have no problem making an impact once he gets on the floor.