A Brentwood Academy basketball legend could be one of the next lottery picks in the NBA.
2018 graduate Darius Garland, driving force behind the Eagles’ four-pete run in basketball state titles from 2015-18, pulled out of the NBA Draft Combine this week, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Charania says the withdrawal hints that Garland is in line to be a top selection in June’s 2019 NBA Draft.
Duke’s Zion Williamson is the locked-in favorite to go first to the New Orleans Pelicans, and Murray State’s Ja Morant and Williamson’s Blue Devils teammate R.J. Barrett are the other players widely considered to be taken early.
Garland joined Williamson, Morant and Barrett in not getting measured at the combine, further fueling speculation that he’s been told he’ll potentially be a top-four pick next month.
The former Eagle joined the Vanderbilt Commodores for one year, though he injured his knee in the fifth game of the year and spent the rest of the season unable to play.
The teams picking after New Orleans are the Memphis Grizzlies, the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers. Some believe Morant will go second, leaving Garland to potentially find his new home with two legacy franchises in the Knicks and Lakers.
In New York, he’d be joining a rebuilding process unless the team lands top players in the summer’s free agency cycle like some think they will. In Los Angeles, he’d be joining NBA great LeBron James and young talents Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball (though, Ingram and Ball could hypothetically be trade pieces for LA to land a player like NO’s Anthony Davis).
It’s also possible Garland could fall past the top four picks, leaving him open for the fifth, sixth and seventh selections owned by the Cavs, Bulls and Suns, respectively.
News from Bleacher Report says Garland could have a promise from the Suns that gave him the motivation to leave the combine, but there’s no promise he’ll be available when Phoenix picks, barring a trade.
Garland will know his new home soon enough when the NBA Draft gets underway on June 20.
Joining Garland with the WillCo connection is Franklin alum and Lipscomb star Garrison Mathews, a potential name to go in the second round.
Photo from Vanderbilt Athletics.