Monday was a big day for the Vanderbilt basketball program, as head coach Bryce Drew received a verbal commitment from one of the best point guards in the Class of 2018. Darrius Garland, a 5-star prospect who attends Brentwood Academy in Brentwood, Tennessee, announced Monday afternoon that he will remain in state to play his college basketball.
In receiving the verbal pledge from Garland, Vanderbilt beat out UCLA, Indiana and Kentucky. Garland is Vanderbilt’s second commitment in the 2018 class, joining 6-foot-5 wing Aaron Nesmith. It goes without saying that Garland’s commitment is a huge development for Vanderbilt, which won 19 games and reached the NCAA tournament in Bryce Drew’s first season as head coach.
With Riley LaChance and Matthew Fisher-Davis both being seniors, there was a clear need to bolster the numbers on the perimeter in the 2018 recruiting class. By reeling in Garland, a talented floor general who can both score and distribute the basketball, the Commodores have a player they can build around moving forward.
In addition to playing at Brentwood Academy, where he earned Division II first team all-state honors as a junior, Garland played for the Bradley Beal Elite program on the Nike EYBL circuit. Garland averaged 16.8 points and 4.8 assists per game in EYBL play this spring/summer.
The last time Vanderbilt landed a recruit as highly regarded as Garland was back in 2008 when John Jenkins, the 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year in Tennessee, committed to the school. Jenkins would go on to earn first team All-SEC honors as a junior and help lead the Commodores to an SEC tournament title.
Vanderbilt snapped a four-game losing streak by using a strong second half to take down No. 21 Florida, 68-66, on Saturday afternoon in the SEC.
The Commodores (9-10, 3-4) shot 46 percent from the field and nailed 10 three-pointers as Matthew Fisher-Davis led four double-figure scorers with 19 points. For a young team with a new coach in Bryce Drew, this is a solid victory that he can build off of as his team did a great job of executing offense down the stretch.
This is a bad loss at home for No. 19 Florida (14-5, 5-2) and doesn’t help the weak national reputation of the SEC. Sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen lit it up for 29 points for the Gators but Devin Robinson (12 points) was the only other Florida player who finished with double-figures.
As we’ve seen from the Gators the past three seasons, they’re incredibly inconsistent and they have a tendency to show up flat at inopportune times. A lot of that falls on the lack of quality point guard play and the lack of development from former McDonald’s All-American Kasey Hill. Hill isn’t the only Florida player who needs to step up for them to maximize their potential, but this is his final stretch of college ball after an underwhelming career.
Right now, Florida is in position to break a two-year NCAA tournament drought, but losses like this can’t happen again at home if the Gators want to get back in the field.
Vanderbilt added a scoring guard to its Class of 2017 haul as Houston native Maxwell Evans committed.
After a big summer with the Houston Defenders in the Under Armour Association, the 6-foot-2 Evans received a lot of high-major attention before the Commodores landed the commitment. In 17 games this spring and summer, Evans averaged 14.9 points and 3.2 rebounds per game as he shot 35 percent from three-point range.
Considered a three-star prospect on Rivals, Evans really picked up his play as a scorer this summer in the UAA Finals as he put up 17.4 points a contest.
New head coach Bryce Drew now has two commitments in the mix in the Class of 2017 as Evans joins three-star guard Saben Lee. This is a solid base to start the class with and Evans could become a solid scorer in college with some added development.
Texas A&M continued its recent hot streak on Saturday with a 76-67 home win over Vanderbilt in the SEC. The win gives the Aggies six consecutive victories, but more importantly, gives Texas A&M at least a share of the SEC regular season title.
The Aggies (24-7, 13-5) were led by 17 points and 11 rebounds from Jalen Jones and 16 points from Danuel House as they shot 43 percent from the floor. After the tumultuous stretch in the middle of the SEC season that saw the Aggies lose five straight games, for them to clinch at least a share of the SEC title is a big accomplishment. It was a weird SEC season for Texas A&M — they started 7-0, lost five straight, then won six straight to close — but it shows what kind of talent they had to go on two different winning streaks of at least six games.
Vanderbilt (19-12, 11-7) lost Damian Jones to foul trouble for most of the game and didn’t come out with a great effort for a team that needs bubble wins. Jones led the Commodores with 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting while Wade Baldwin also finished with 11. One positive note for Vanderbilt was that sophomore Riley LaChance (nine points) knocked down three 3-pointers and looked more in rhythm than he had in weeks. If they can get another shooter like LaChance going, it makes Vanderbilt that much more dangerous these next few weeks.
Texas A&M had an impressive regular season in the SEC but the conference tournament is still going to be a huge test for this group. The Aggies haven’t been to the NCAA tournament in a few years and most of these players haven’t been tested in postseason games. The SEC tournament doesn’t compare to the real deal, but it’s a nice practice run for a talented team that has Final Four aspirations.
It’s Friday, which means time for another edition of the NBC Sports College Basketball Talk podcast. Today’s episode touches on a number of topics from the last couple of days in college basketball, beginning with Duke’s Grayson Allen and the events within the Blue Devils’ win over Florida State Thursday night.
Was the trip intentional? How’s he dealing with the attention that comes with being a player of his caliber at a school like Duke? Rob Dauster, Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips all provide their thoughts on this situation.
Also discussed in the podcast are Sean Miller’s comments on court storming following No. 9 Arizona’s loss at Colorado Wednesday night, the Big East “Game of the Year” between No. 1 Villanova and No. 5 Xavier, the controversial finish between Washington and Oregon State, and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule.
As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher. Or if you prefer, just click “play” in the embedded player below. Thanks for listening!
Mississippi State freshman Quinndary Weatherspoon buried a corner 3-pointer at the buzzer as the Bulldogs came from 17 points down in the second half to beat Vanderbilt, 75-74, on Tuesday night.
Weatherspoon led Mississippi State with 24 points, as the Bulldogs trailed 61-44 with 13 minutes left. The loss almost assuredly bursts the bubble of Vanderbilt, who drops to 15-11 and 7-6 in the SEC.
(H/T: The Bulldog Club)