By David Boclair
Luke Kornet was not one of Darius Garland’s teammates at Vanderbilt.
The New York Knicks center played with the former Commodores point guard as much as or more than some of those who were on the 2018-19 roster, though. That’s because Garland, the Brentwood Academy graduate, appeared in just five games before he sustained a season-ending knee injury.
“I know [Garland] fairly well,” Kornet told The New York Post this week. “We recruited him since he was pretty young because he was from Nashville. He played pickup with us quite a bit in the summers. I’ve played with him 10 or so times.
“Very talented. He knows how to play point guard and from a skill perspective, you knew he was elite.”
Because his one season of college basketball was cut short, Garland is something of a mystery to NBA teams as they prepare for this year’s draft, which will take place June 20.
The Knicks, who currently have the league’s worst record and will be one of the first — if not the first — teams to pick, will be able to learn more about Garland than most. In addition to Kornet’s insight, guard John Jenkins, another former Vanderbilt player, can offer his impressions as well.
“My first year in the league , I went back home to work out with a trainer and [Garland] happened to be there with his father,” Jenkins, a Station Camp High School graduate, told the The Post. “His daddy asked if I can work out with him. We ran sprints. He was the ‘next guy’ coming up after me in Nashville, and Nashville doesn’t have many ‘next ones.’ When we get one or two, you embrace them.”
Garland withdrew from school in January to focus on his rehab from knee surgery and to prepare for the draft. Most experts expect him to be a lottery pick. Some even suggest he could be one of the first 10 players taken.
“I think he’s top 5,” Jenkins said. “Based on talent alone and skill level. I think he’s going to be a great pro — sees the game well, super quick, has a great jumper and good feel for the game. The injury sucked, but he’s focusing on the basketball 100 percent now.
“He’s the real deal. Everyone will see that. He has the mentality to show everyone he’s really good.”
Photo by Getty Images.