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For the second straight year, the Cleveland Cavaliers have drafted a freshman point guard with their top pick in the NBA Draft.
The Cavaliers selected Darius Garland out of Vanderbilt with the No. 5 overall pick Thursday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. A year ago, Cleveland took Collin Sexton out of Alabama with the eighth pick in the draft.
The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Garland played in only five games for the Commodores last season after suffering an MCL injury.
In those five games, Garland averaged 16.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists and shot 53.7 percent from the field and 47.8 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. In high school, Garland averaged 28.6 points and shot 59.7 percent in leading Brentwood Academy to four state championships in Tennessee, earning the state’s Mr. Basketball award as a sophomore, junior and senior.
“I just like to win,” Garland, the highest-drafted Vanderbilt player since 1966, said in an ESPN interview with Maria Taylor on stage after being picked. “I’m a competitor. I’m ready to get to Cleveland.”
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) June 21, 2019
Members of the Cavaliers’ front office attended a private workout by Garland last weekend in Los Angeles. He is represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, who also represents former Cavaliers star LeBron James and current Cleveland players Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith, though Thompson is entering the final season of his contract and Smith is expected to be traded.
There will certainly be questions regarding how well Garland and Sexton will coexist in the same backcourt. Sexton averaged 16.7 points and 3.0 assists while playing in all 82 games last season as a rookie for the Cavaliers.
“I think me and Collin will play really well together,” Garland told reporters after being drafted. “You see Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum playing really well, playing in the playoffs. The future is really bright for us.”
Leading up to the draft, Cleveland general manager Koby Altman spoke of finding players with both of the Cavaliers’ picks (Cleveland also owns the No. 26 overall pick as a result of a trade with the Houston Rockets) who can play multiple positions.
“We’re fortunate we’re in an era of basketball now where everyone is so versatile, so talented and has multiple skillsets,” Altman said. “We have a chance to add an impact player at both picks that will supplement and complement the group.”
Garland’s father, Winston, played seven seasons for five different teams in the NBA after being taken in the second round of the 1987 draft by the Milwaukee Bucks.