Vanderbilt's Darius Garland Declares for 2019 NBA Draft Despite Knee Surgery

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJanuary 23, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 11:  Darius Garland #10 of the Vanderbilt Commodores handles the ball against the USC Trojans during a game at The Galen Center on November 11, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images)
Cassy Athena/Getty Images

Vanderbilt freshman guard Darius Garland will enter the 2019 NBA draft, per an announcement on his Instagram account: 

Garland played four full games for the Commodores and averaged 19.8 points. He suffered a season-ending injury to the meniscus in his left knee early in the first half against Kent State on November 23. Per 247Sports, he was the No. 14 ranked player in the class of 2018.

Despite the knee injury, Garland's draft prospects are still high. Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoopshype conducted an aggregate NBA mock draft on Tuesday, and Garland was given a composite ranking of ninth overall when factoring in the latest picks from Bleacher Report, ESPN, NBADraft.net, SI.com and The Athletic. All of the outlets sans NBADraft.net had him in the top 11.

Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report provided a quick scouting report when he had him going seventh overall in his Dec. 26 mock: "A quick and shifty scorer who's advanced around the perimeter with his pull-up game and three-point shooting, Garland should intrigue lottery teams that are either looking for a new lead guard or additional backcourt firepower."

Wasserman also wrote that the injury could even help Garland's long-term pro prospects, as no "obvious weakness" in his game became prevalent on the collegiate level beforehand.

Sam Vecenie of The Athletic offered an extensive breakdown of Garland's game in a mid-November interview with the likely lottery pick. He drew comparisons of some aspects of Garland's game to those of NBA scoring guards, such as Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks and D'Angelo Russell of the Brooklyn Nets.

Garland ultimately looks like he's making the sharp move for his future. If the lottery seems like his primary destination even with the injury, then his best bet is to get back to 100 percent and work toward a prosperous NBA career.

He showed exciting glimpses of what he can develop into when he dropped 33 points on 12-of-18 shooting versus Liberty in his final full game, so we'll see whether he can turn into a top scorer on the pro level.

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