A Darius Kinnard Garland’s parents, Winston and Felicia, gave birth to him in 2000 in Gary, Indiana. His father was an NBA player in the 1980s and 1990s, spending a combined seven seasons with five different squads. Garland earned four state titles while a student at Tennessee’s Brentwood Academy. The Tennessee Mr. Basketball award was his for all three years he played high school basketball, as his scoring average rose from 18.6 as a sophomore to 23.4 as a junior and 27.6 as a senior.

Garland was a McDonald’s All-American, a Jordan Brand Classic All-Star, and a Nike Hoop Summit invitee in addition to being named the Gatorade Tennessee Player of the Year in 2018. On social media, he goes by the handles @dariusgarland22 and @darius garland. You could have easily missed Garland’s time as a student at the university if you blinked. After being one of the most celebrated freshmen in Commodores’ annals, he saw action in only five games for the team.

A meniscus injury sidelined the 6-foot-2 guard beginning on November 23. Early on, the three-time Mr. Basketball in Tennessee had demonstrated his scoring prowess. In his first game, a victory over Winthrop, he scored 24 points. His best game-ending scoring performance came just before he was hurt. Garland made 12 of 18 field goal attempts, including 5 of 8 three-point attempts, for a total of 33 points. Among first-year totals at Vanderbilt, it ranked second all-time.

Even before the game against Kent State had begun, Garland had already suffered a knee injury. The guard had reportedly announced his departure from the team and preparation for the 2019 NBA Draft in January. The Cleveland Cavaliers used the fifth overall pick to select him.

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If you’re feeling confident, how does that translate on the court?

The season brought new challenges and opportunities, so how do you turn your newly-found confidence into something more lasting? It all comes down to how you think. Claiming that you will carry it out. That I was determined to see this through; this was the path I had chosen. The Most Improved Award, an All-Star nod, and a spot in the postseason were all targets of mine. Those are the three things I worked hardest to accomplish over the summer and I can now check off my list. However, I have higher ambitions. And I know I can do better than this.

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During this offseason, what plans have you made?

Without a doubt, we’ll be making the postseason. My goal is to advance to the next round. That is my primary objective. I was disappointed that we lost the play-in game and did not advance to the postseason. But next year, we’ll be stronger and healthier than ever before.

Stats

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Why did it hurt so much that we made it to the play-in round but not the playoffs?

I really enjoyed this opportunity and was sad when the season ended. You could hardly be heard in the arena, such was the intensity of being there and experiencing a postseason game with an entire city cheering you on. In both the first game in Brooklyn and the second game at home against Atlanta, the atmosphere was electric throughout. The basketball game we just finished was the most intense one I’ve ever played in. It was neat to have that experience, but now I’m motivated more than ever to make the postseason.

You guys had two All-Stars this year, and the Cavaliers were one of the most successful teams since LeBron James left. Something big is cooking in Cleveland. What makes Cavs stock a good investment?

We’re a young team, entertaining to watch, and we play a lot of fast-paced, exciting basketball with plenty of threes, alley-oops, and dunks. You should put your money in us. Improvement is inevitable. We’re in our 20s and we’re hot.

Koby Altman has expressed the team’s gratitude that you’re in Cleveland and interested in playing for the Cavaliers. What did you take away from that?

I appreciated the front desk’s faith in me very much. Just knowing that they have my back if things go south is a huge relief. I will be present for Cleveland. It’s great to be in Cleveland because I really dig the place, both socially and professionally.

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Cleveland is not a city that anyone has ever described as “loved” to my knowledge.

There are many excellent dining options. The summers are wild here, so hop in a boat and head out on the lake. Culture plays a role, that’s all. Everything gets thrown into one giant pot. To put it simply, everybody gets along. People often complain about the gloomy weather, but in this case, New York City is no exception.

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