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Luka has already put himself on Iowa’s Mount Rushmore

Iowa v Illinois
The GOAT?
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

A great deal has been written about Luka Garza. Far more will continue to be written about Luka Garza. Garza has not played one minute for the Iowa Hawkeyes as a senior and yet he has already chiseled out his bust on Iowa’s basketball Mount Rushmore. Let’s take a look at Luka’s Iowa stats, his game, what his stats may look like his senior year, and what the big fella needs to accomplish while still at Iowa.

Luka’s Stats as a Hawkeye

FR year: 12.1 PPG 6.4 REB

Soph year: 13.1 PPG 4.5 REB

JR year: 23.9 PPG 9.8 REB

Luka came to Iowa as a 4 star recruit from the Washington D.C. area. He burst on the scene immediately putting up strong numbers in scoring and rebounding. I remember a basket his freshman year that was a mid-range Sikma move (reverse pivot) butterfly-soft kiss off the glass and I thought, “Whoa.” That was a pretty impressive piece of footwork out of a young post. Fast forward to 2020 and we can tell that Big Frank (Luka’s dad) has had Luka model his game and practice his skills based on the game’s greats. Luka is old school. Very much included in this is the bloody gauze, stitches, and missing teeth that have become commonplace.

Luka’s Game and Work on his Craft

Luka’s game is built on a solid foundation, literally. It starts with his footwork. It is evident that Garza spends a great deal of time practicing his footwork. I admit that I have seen every Twitter post by @frankgarza57. Most of them I’ve watched multiple times. A few things that stand out.

Much of what Luka does involves being equally as good one way as the other. If you practice something going right, you practice it going left. Always. His footwork almost always involves moving without the ball. Even on catch-and-shoot 3’s you can see he drops his butt, shows his hands, and gets shot-ready before every pass is made.

The attention to detail is tremendous. Garza’s workout regimen involves moves at the basket, mid-range, three point shots, and deep three point shots (NBA auditioning already). In Iowa we now refer to the Mikan drill (one of my favorites, by the way) as the Garza/Gustafson drill. Luka has a series of the Mikan drill he will do. He will work on pivots, fades, up-and-unders (love it), shot fake and one dribble pull-ups and dunks, skyhooks, you name it, from mid-range.

Finally, to watch him splash threes at an alarming rate defies reason. This is a 6’11” 265 pound warrior delicately dropping 20 consecutive threes through the net. His arc is a thing of beauty. Also, it’s not by chance. Two basketballs can fit through a rim at one time, with proper arc. If a shot is flat, it needs to be almost perfect to go in. Luka is a skilled, talented, intelligent player. What has set him apart is his determination and work ethic. Everyone that plays division one basketball is talented. Luka sprinting down the court after a defensive rebound, posting up in the paint and demanding the ball is everything you need to know about him. No one I’ve seen will outwork him.

Senior Year Stats / Room for Improvement

Here’s what I see Luka’s stats looking like his senior year. First of all, I doubt he will average 23.9 points a game. With the returning scorers Iowa has back, it won’t be necessary for Luka to put up those numbers. It was the case last year as well, but Luka Garza should be the first three names on opponents’ scouting reports. Teams will make us show that we can put the ball through the hoops. Joe Wieskamp had a down year (for him) in 2019-20. He will be a terror. Jordan Bohannon will gladly make three after three.

I’d like to see Luka’s rebounds get up over 10 rebounds per game (9.8 last year). This will happen. He’s in the best shape of his life, evidenced by his 232 workouts a day. I fully expect Luka’s assists (1.2), free throw percentage (65.1%) and three point percentage (35.8%) to increase this year. I would go so far to say that these are all locks.

Who would you put here for Iowa hoops?

Luka and the Big Picture

First and foremost, Luka will cement his legacy by helping the Hawks accumulate wins and most importantly championships. We will never know how last season would have ended, but the Hawks had second weekend potential in the Big Dance. The Hawks are in need of a Big Ten championship. After that, a Sweet 16 appearance and we’ll go from there. The great ones are those who have helped their teams win. Period. Luka is all about winning. Stats come secondary. Winning takes precedent. Always has, always will with the great ones. Luka is a great one.

My Iowa Basketball Mount Rushmore? (I’m going with 5)

Ronnie Lester, Roy Marble, Chris Street, Megan Gustafson, Luka Garza