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Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland leaves combine, fueling belief he has lottery promise

Less than a day removed from the draft lottery, Darius Garland already knows which team he’ll be playing for next season – or so it appears. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, the University of Vanderbilt point guard abruptly left the NBA combine on Wednesday, leading to speculation that he’d secured a promise from a team in the lottery.

Promises are a somewhat common practice during the pre-draft process. If a franchise drafting at a certain position becomes enamored with a prospect who’s expected to be selected in the same range that team is picking, both parties will sometimes agree for the player to shut down workouts and interviews with other interested teams to help ensure he will be available when the original organization in question is on the clock. That delicate balancing act is most commonly played out after the lottery, and several weeks closer to the actual draft taking place.

Garland is universally considered the second-best point guard prospect in this class behind Murray State’s Ja Morant, and a potential top-five pick. He played just five games for the Commodores last season due to a meniscus injury suffered in late November, averaging 16.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.6 assists on elite shooting marks of 53.7 percent overall and 47.8 percent from beyond the arc, in the process vaulting ahead of other floor generals in his class.

Does Garland have a promise? Considering his sudden absence in Chicago, it seems likely. Whether another team with eyes for Garland will throw that plan into disarray over the next five weeks, though, remains to be seen.