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2019-20 Preseason Profile: Darius Garland

Cavs Top Pick Looks to Break Out After Abbreviated College Career
by Joe Gabriele
Cavs.com Beat Writer

2019-20 Preseason Profile:
Darius Garland

Cavs Top Pick Looks to Break Out After Abbreviated College Career


There’s absolutely no mystery about the first two players on our list of preseason profiles – Jordan Clarkson and Matthew Dellavedova.

Clarkson – the top-scoring reserve in the East – has missed exactly five games in the past four years. And Delly is … well, … Delly.

But our third installment features a player who only a handful of fans have seen in action over the past year – rookie Darius Garland.

The fifth overall pick of this past June’s Draft, Garland enters the Association having played only four full games of collegiate hoops. He made an impression in those contests – (and obviously in the workout he put on for the Cavaliers brass) – but will come to Camp having not played a meaningful game since November 19 of last year.

Garland – who won four straight Tennessee high school state championships – shot the lights out in a private pre-Draft workout for a Cavs contingent in California. That was good enough for Cleveland to tab him with the first of three first round selections on June 20, taking Belmont senior Dylan Windler with the 26th overall pick and USC freshman Kevin Porter Jr. at No. 30.

”I think I shot the ball really well in the private workout, and I think that’s what caught coach’s eye,” said Garland at his introductory press conference. “There was a little bit of pressure, because the whole (Cavaliers) staff came. And that really meant a lot to me, that they were really interested. I knew I had to come put on a show for them.”

Coach Beilein expounded: “He was shooting from back in Nashville and we were out in California.”

The Cavaliers were abundantly pleased with their first rounder from a season ago – Collin Sexton, who closed out his rookie campaign in stellar fashion, posting freshman numbers on par with Larry Bird and Steph Curry. The knock on him coming out of Alabama was his outside shooting, and all the Young Bull did was set a franchise rookie record with 119 triples.

The possibility of Sexton and Garland – a kid known for his flawless shooting stroke – in the same backcourt is an intriguing scenario with Training Camp rapidly approaching.


Darius Garland won four consecutive Tennessee high school state titles before committing to Vanderbilt.
Photo: Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images


LOOKING BACK -- Garland – the son of former NBA player, Winston Garland – was a five-star recruit out of Brentwood Academy and, primarily through his family’s relationship with Bryce Drew, committed to Vanderbilt as the top recruit in school history.

The 6-2, 175-pounder got off to a scorching start – leading both teams with 24 points in a win over Winthrop in his Vandy debut, going 9-for-15 from the floor to go with four assists in his debut. In his next game, against Kevin Porter’s Southern California squad, Garland paced the Commodores with 19 points, going 3-of-5 from long-distance in the win. (Porter finished with 14 points, four boards and a pair of blocks for USC.)

After a clunker against Alcorn State, Garland bounced back with a vengeance in a win against Liberty – going off for 33 points, canning 12-of-18 shots, including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc, adding four board, four assists and a steal.

But that would essentially be the end of his collegiate career. Less than three minutes into his fifth game – a home matchup against Kent State – Garland suffered a meniscus injury in his left knee and was lost for the season.

Garland didn’t play in either of Cleveland’s two Summer League stints, giving himself a little extra time to get healthy heading into his rookie season.


BY THE NUMBERS: .537, .478, .750 … shooting percentages from the floor (29-54), from beyond the arc (11-23) and the free throw stripe, respectively, for Darius Garland in his truncated freshman season with Vanderbilt.

Excluding the one game he struggled in – a 22-point win over Alcorn State – those numbers improve to .574, .550 and .785, respectively.


LOOKING AHEAD -- With Garland’s limited college experience and the decision not to play him in either Salt Lake City or Las Vegas, not much is known about the young point guard or how exactly Coach Beilein intends to utilize him.

Collin Sexton was the model of durability last year; he was the only Cavalier to suit up for all 82 games. But Cleveland had a revolving door at the other starting guard spot – with Alec Burks, Rodney Hood, David Nwaba, Matthew Dellavedova, Brandon Knight, George Hill, Nik Stauskas and JR Smith all rotating in and out of the backcourt rotation.

There are obviously size – and thus, defensive concerns with starting both Sexton and Garland together. Which one will handle the primary playmaking? Are there enough shots between them – and the rest of the starting five? How will they break down assignments defensively? Can they finish games together?

The Cavs new coaching staff has been working on those possibilities all summer long. And in just over two weeks, they’ll see exactly what they have with Darius Garland and their new dynamic duo.


Back By Popular Demand

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Garland Preview Playlist

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Back By Popular Demand

Yep, we’re bringing it back … 'classic' is new again. Our retro 90s uniform is making a comeback this upcoming season.
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From Draft night in Brooklyn, to landing in Cleveland, get an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look into the whirlwind two-day experience for Darius Garland and Dylan Windler.
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Watch Full Introductory Press Conference

Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman and Head Coach John Beilein introduce Darius Garland and Dylan Windler to the media from Cleveland Clinic Courts on Friday, June 21.
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