My Next Step

Dear Commodore Nation,
 
This past November, I stepped on the floor of Memorial Gymnasium for my first game as a Vanderbilt Commodore. That moment represented the end of a long recruitment process for me and my family, but it was also the beginning of my college career at my dream school. Few student-athletes get the opportunity to play at home in front of friends and family — and at an elite academic institution in a top-notch conference. Vanderbilt is a unique place.
 
At Vanderbilt, I was going to get that chance while helping the Commodores take the college basketball world by storm, all under the guidance of one of the best coaches in the country in Bryce Drew.
 
Then, those plans changed.
 
My knee injury robbed me of my freshman season at Vanderbilt, and it took an emotional toll on myself, my family and my teammates. I quickly learned that life does not always follow a script. In fact, adversity can hit when you least expect it.
 
Now, the time has come for the next step in my journey. I have decided to forgo the remainder of my eligibility at Vanderbilt and focus on preparing for the NBA Draft.
 
This decision was not an easy one due to my love for Vanderbilt, my teammates, Coach Drew, and his staff. I am beyond thankful for the opportunity they have afforded me at Vanderbilt. Current NBA rules allow me the immediate opportunity to pursue my ultimate dream of playing professional basketball — which, for me, is a chance of a lifetime. Having discussed my options with my family and Coach Drew, I know this is the right move at the right time. Just as classmates who came to Vanderbilt to help prepare them for their future careers, this university and this basketball program undoubtedly helped position me in the best way possible for my professional aspirations both on and off the court.
 
Still, my Vanderbilt story is not finished. I fully intend to return to West End and earn my degree. I will always root for the Commodores, as this coaching staff continues to build a championship program in Nashville.
 
Vanderbilt is my family, and I am a Commodore for life.
 
Anchor Down!
Darius Garland