Darius Garland (Nike/Jon Lopez)

5-star giving Tennessee a hard look

Rick Barnes is searching for his first five-star signature since coming to Tennessee and a local prep star is giving the Vols a look.

Before it’s all said and done, Darius Garland may be one of the most coveted basketball recruits within Volunteer State borders in recent memory.

The Brentwood Academy junior and reigning TSSAA Division II Class AA Mr. Basketball hasn’t turned a blind eye to keeping his talent close to home and playing at Tennessee, taking an unofficial visit to Knoxville last month.

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound point guard and Scout five-star prospect from the 2018 class ranks as the No. 12 talent in the nation. Joining him on his Rocky Top trip was his father Winston Garland, who played seven seasons in the NBA before wrapping up his career in Italy.

The Garlands toured campus, watched a Tennessee basketball scrimmage and spent time interacting with second-year Vols coach Rick Barnes and his staff. Winston Garland shared his thoughts on the visit to Tennessee.

"We enjoyed the whole experience of what Tennessee has to offer and the basketball program," the former pro told InsideTennessee. "Coach Barnes is a real treat to talk to about his experience and what he plans to do with the team. We just enjoyed talking basketball with him.

"The goal was to get Darius on campus and show him the first-class facilities they have and to get a feel for Ole Rocky Top. We toured the campus, and it's a beautiful campus.

"Darius is also good friends with (Tennessee freshman) Jordan Bone and Jordan had some real insightful things to say about how he's enjoying his time up at UT. It was a good visit all-around for him."

The Tennessee visit was Garland's first visit in October and the first of many. He followed up the trip to Rocky Top by visiting both Indiana and Louisville last week. This week Garland travels to Tobacco Road to meet with Mike Krzyzewski at Duke. Plans are also in place to check out Ohio State, Vanderbilt and Virginia.

If Barnes is going to find a way to land the highest-ranked recruit of his short tenure, he is going to have to beat a long list of college basketball elites.

The five-star has offers from the likes of Duke, Louisville, Memphis, UCLA and Virginia. The country’s No. 3-ranked junior point guard doesn’t seem to have a leader.

"There's no front-runner now," father Garland said. "It's great he's able to take some unofficials but he's not leaning one way or another.”


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