Garza looking for ‘real opportunity’ in NBA Draft process

Luka Garza said he would need to have a guaranteed spot on an NBA roster in order to leave Iowa early.


Iowa center Luka Garza dunks the ball during a men’s basketball game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Nebraska Huskers at Carver-Hawkeye arena on Saturday, February 8, 2020. The Hawkeyes defeated the Huskers 96-72.

Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor

Iowa’s Luka Garza made sure to emphasize that he’s keeping his options open in the coming months.

When he tweeted his intention to test the NBA Draft waters on Friday morning, he wrote that he would be keeping his eligibility in all caps.

He gave even more assurance of that in a teleconference shortly after he declared.

Garza said he will need to be valued by an organization enough to receive a guaranteed NBA deal to leave Iowa. If not, he’ll be back in the Black and Gold.

“I’m not going to go in without 100 percent confidence of being able to make a roster,” Garza said. “I don’t see any interest in ending up in the G-League without any type of deal or anything like that. I think that’s something I can be able to get after my senior year.

“I want to hear where a team takes me and where they see me. It really only takes one team.”

For Garza, it’s all about finding the right fit.

He said he wants to find an organization that values him the way Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery did during the recruiting process.

If that’s not the case, he’ll return to Iowa City. Garza’s return would mean a shot at a deep run in the NCAA Tournament for the Hawkeyes with every starter returning, plus the returns of Jordan Bohannon and Jack Nunge.

“That’s why I chose to make it very clear in my statement that I’m keeping my eligibility and that I’m excited for the possibility of coming back,” Garza said. “There’s no way I’m closing the door on either option at this point. There’s something special in this group at Iowa that I’m really excited about.”

Until he makes that decision, Garza looks forward to the draft process and receiving as much feedback as he can from NBA teams.

Garza knows players who have gone through the process before, including current teammate Joe Wieskamp and former teammates Tyler Cook and Peter Jok. He said he’ll continue to talk with them throughout the process.

Garza said he needs to work on his lateral quickness, his ability to guard ball screens, and his on-ball defense whether he stays at Iowa or leaves for the NBA.

He also noted that he can bring his signature work ethic to the NBA and feels confident that his game will translate to the next level.

“They will know 100 percecnt that if they take me, I’m a guy who’s going to go in and make the most out of every opportunity they give me, and go as hard as I can, and be willing to work and hear criticism, and all of that. But as well as physically just being able to stretch the floor. Become a guy whose shot would translate to the next level, as well as my post game. I feel very confident in my ability to score in the [paint] no matter what level I play at. I know I’m able to score on bigger and stronger defenders, as well as guys who are a similar size as me.”