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What are those: an investigation into Luka Garza’s footwear

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3 questions about Luka Garza’s shoes from the Nebraska win

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Luka Garza normally lets his play on the court do the talking but during Sunday’s win over Nebraska, his shoes did the talking as well. John Bohnenkamp kicked off the intrigue with this pregame tweet:

And, after zooming in on the picture above, they are certainly … something.

Where did they come from?

In Mark Emmert’s morning after report, he shared the lowdown on Tyler Cook’s gift to Garza:

Garza was wearing some spiffy new shoes. They were a gift from Cook, who picked them up at a summer camp in Los Angeles. Both players were [sic] size 18s.

“After I sprained my ankle in those last shoes, I think none of the coaches want me to wear them anymore,” Garza said with a laugh. “They’ve got better ankle support on them.”

Cook was happy to help.

“Every time he puts them on, I’m like, ‘You know you’re playing well because of me, right?’” Cook said.

What are they?

There was some brief discussion in our group chat about them, from a distance they looked like Jordan 8s but credit Matt Cabel, who nailed it with the LeBron Soldiers.

After some brief Googling, I was able to confirm they are, in fact Soldier 12s created exclusively for participants in the Nike Basketball Academy. There’s a clearer photo which details the high top and teal/pink/orange accents.

Confirmed: they are something.

Will we see them again?

Garza’s answer above alludes to the idea he might be done playing in the shoes he’s worn for most of the season. A perusal of images in the available database shows he has worn a pair of all black low tops with all of Iowa’s jersey colors.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
NCAA Basketball: Empire Classic-Connecticut vs Iowa Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa, like many Division 1 programs, typically provide 2-3 pairs of shoes for athletes to match with jersey colors. We’ve seen white, black, and gold shoes from Hawks with those jerseys. But with the grey, it’s a bit of a smorgasbord, but most of the team-issued footwear appears to be high-top.

Since they’re Nike, there is no concern about Garza crossing brands and it’s pretty rare to see athletes perfectly matching team colors with personal shoes – even Jordan Bohannon’s yellow shoes have an electric blue accent. So I suspect as long as Garza is nursing his ankle injury, we see him stay in high tops.

Like the grey jerseys, though, Iowa has some good mojo going with Garza in the borrowed Soldiers. So here’s hoping he keeps wearing them, even if it’s just to prevent further injury to his ankle.