NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — Wherever 5-star point guard Darius Garland goes, expect others to follow. That’s why it’s no surprise Garland added Kentucky to his list of offers Sunday.
The 6-foot-1 rising senior from Brentwood, Tenn., might hold the keys for the rest of his 5-star friends. SEC Country covered Nike’s Peach Jam and the Adidas Gauntlet Finale over the weekend, and perhaps no player was more popular among his peers than Garland.
No. 1 prospect Marvin Bagley and No. 4 prospect Cameron Reddish — two of Kentucky’s biggest targets — both liked the idea of playing with Garland. And it’s more than Bagley and Reddish. Garland mentioned three more 5-stars he’d like to team up with, point guard Tre Jones, shooting guard Romeo Langford and power forward Bol Bol. All are top-12 prospects in the 2018 class, and Langford and Bol are two more players Calipari and the Cats are after.
“There’s a lot of us trying to make a package deal out of each other,” Garland said on Thursday. “We’ll see how it goes.”
Duke is the favorite to land Garland. The Blue Devils have a 75 percent chance, followed by Vanderbilt at 25 percent, according to 247Sports’ Crystal Ball. Bagley, who planned his first visit to Duke, said he’s known Garland since sixth grade. He said they’re like brothers.
And while Bagley said most of his conversations with Garland aren’t about basketball or a potential package deal, he was asked if he’d prefer to play with his friend.
“Oh, yeah,” Bagley said. “I love to play with him. I’ve been trying to get him on the same team as me for the longest, but it hasn’t worked out.”
Bagley is considering reclassifying to the 2017 class, according to CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish. But if he stays in the 2018 class, a trio of Garland, Bagley and perhaps Cameron Reddish could be leaning toward Duke. Reddish is the No. 2 small forward in the class and Kentucky, Duke, Villanova, Arizona, Maryland, UConn and UCLA are the schools he mentioned last week.
Count Reddish as another member of the Garland fan club. As for the chances the two of them team up?
“It’s a strong possibility,” Reddish said. “We don’t really know, honestly.”
The idea of a “package deal” was one that got tossed around several times over the weekend. Most notable for Kentucky was the discussion small forward Zion Williamson and point guard Immanuel Quickley had about teaming up. Quickley confirmed that Kentucky is still his leader, which means the Wildcats could be in great shape for Williamson, the human highlight of the class.
The teaming-up discussions might be a reason why many of the top players in the class have yet to commit. Of the top 20 2018 prospects, according to 247Sports’ rankings, only two have committed. The top 17 players are all uncommitted.
“Some of us are trying to make a package deal,” Garland said. “We’re still waiting on that.”
Meanwhile, the rest of the class waits on Garland.