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Darius Garland versus the world
by Andrew Force, Future150 (5:12 PM CT, Mon January 12, 2015)
Garland finished with 17 points
Garland finished with 17 points
Andrew Force
Andrew Force:

Future150 National Analyst. Covering High and Middle School basketball.

BRENTWOOD, TN (Future150) -- Brentwood Academy's main gym was overstuffed with angst.  Seemingly ever high school kid from the southern Nashville suburb of Brentwood crammed in to see The Ensworth School against Brentwood Academy. 

Freshman Darius Garland managed to coyly attack the numerous defenders Ensworth Head Coach Ricky Bowers threw at him. 

Darius versus early game situations

With about forty vociferous Ensworth students and probably 200 rambunctious Brentwood Academy rascals the volume rarely subsided.  Though it appeared he was nervous early, Garland has a particular strategy from the tip.

"I am used to it.  I played in AAU Nationals.  We had to get settled in," said Garland.  "Get everybody involved."

Garland prefers to defer early, spreading the shots around in the hopes that everybody gets a little confidence going. 

Four teammates scored in the opening eight minutes and Garland took just three shots. 

Darius versus Imani Starling

To defend Garland, Coach Bowers ran out 5'7" sophomore Imani Starling.  The reputation for Starling is that he fights through screens and utilizes exceptional lateral movement. 
Also, he has a small, yet powerful body that he intentionally positions directly between the dribbler and his desired destination. 

Starling would prove to be a good match for Garland.  At first. 

The shorter guard puffed his chest out and injected physicality to the encounter.  Starling slid his feet faster than Garland could even dribble diagonally in the early going.  Garland needs to strengthen his upper body. 

His screens will improve when he gets bigger.  After one off-season he will probably return stronger, more capable of shielding the ball from a stodgy hound.

"My goal is to try to get him on my hip," said Garland of attacking Starling.  "He is really, really quick."

The Eagles of Brentwood Academy spread the floor and frequently used a high-flashing screen to create problems.  Of his 17 points, Garland recorded nine against Starling. 

"He is a knockdown shooter," said Garland's teammate Gavin Schoenwald.  "Once the defender comes out he drives around them.  It is not often one defender can guard both." 

Darius versus Jordan Bone

Jordan Bone is easily a top five player in the Nashville area.  He might be the second best upperclassman to fellow junior, Braxton Blackwell.

Electric with and without the ball, Bone causes a lot of deflections and generally disrupts with his flashy feet. 

"That is like my big brother," said Garland.  "I love that kid."

Bone is a taller defender than Starling.  A 6'1" guard with long arms, Bone reads passing lanes very well. From the late first quarter to almost halftime Bone lined up against Garland.

"I just try to create space," said Garland.  "If he backs off I shoot it."

The first converted outside shot of Garland's night came against Bone.  The high scorer played Garland tight, but when the ball left for a couple passes Bone sagged off.  The Eagles spotted Garland open 20' from tin out high. 

DG caught it and lofted it in one sweet motion. 

"I try to get screen shots," said Garland.  "If I have a shot I take it."

The freshman scored just five points on Bone.  It was not a long battle because Ensworth needed their leader concentrating on the other end.

Minutes after the handshakes, while walking off the court Garland hugged Bone. 

"Hopefully I can be long like him," said Garland.  "We kind of have the same playing styles."

Darius versus foulers

An exceptional shooter, Garland usually hoards free throw makes.  Facing two capable defenders Friday night he did not draw many fouls. 

Earlier in the season Garland routinely arrived on the logo (sub FT line).  Once he landed in the paint so many choices popped up.  Slower defenders grabbed his arms in desperation. 

Of the six free throw attempts by Garland, just two came during the run of play.  He made five of the six.  He picked up the final four attempts during the methodical closing session. 

Garland scored 17 points and Jeremiah Oatsvall record 16 points.  Frankly the drought by Ensworth lead to the 61-45 final score.

Ensworth scored three points from the 6:23 point up until the closing seconds. 

One of the youngest juniors in the state, Desmond Cambridge ran hot and cold.  From eight aggressive points in the first half he really tapered off offensively.  The Tigers were desperately searching for a second scorer, a complimentary player to Bone.  It is not a search that has ended.


It is so extremely important to remember with young basketball players that change is inevitable.  A player's limitations last month in now way ensure he will stagnate for the next two years. 

Brains and bodies are changing so rapidly for young talents like Darius Garland.  Just a month ago he was committing four or five turnovers against inferior teams.  Friday night he forced maybe one pass.  He was not as direct. 

Garland was great on defense, which used to be an area that needed a little refinement.  Even when Starling made a great move Garland kept him in front, while barely conceding acreage.

Garland is the son of Winston Garland, a former NBA teammate of Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond. 

The elder Garland is an assistant coach with Brentwood Academy and proudly gets to watch this growth firsthand.


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