It was only a matter of time.
After one of the most dominant seasons in Iowa Basketball history that saw him win Big Ten Player of the Year, All-American status and too many player of the year awards to count at this point, Luka Garza is officially testing the NBA waters after his junior season.
He shared the news on his Twitter Friday morning:
Before we dive in let’s also take a look at the accompanying post from Papa Garza:
Gj’s saying, “Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions.”Those before us, Mr. Jok, Mr. Cook, Mr. Wieskamp, benefited greatly from the sage advice that comes from interacting with the NBA. I’m grateful to Fran, staff and Hawkeye Nation for your support of #55 #Hawkeye4ever https://t.co/GLM75GV0sm— Frank Garza (@frankgarza57) April 10, 2020
Now before you go into full-on panic mode about this, let’s dig into these two statements. First, in all caps, Garza claims “I will be KEEPING MY ELIGIBILITY.” Combine that with Frank’s tweet that mentions “the sage advice that comes from interacting with the NBA,” and his mentions of Peter Jok, Tyler Cook, and Joe Wieskamp, all who have also tested the NBA waters before returning to wear the black and gold.
Now, at the same time, none of those players had the season Garza just had for the Iowa Hawkeyes, in which he averaged 23.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, including 11 straight games scoring 20 points or more.
“Luka was one of the top players in the country last season and going through the NBA Draft process is something that he should absolutely do,” head men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery said in the UI news release. “We fully support Luka in the pursuit of his professional goals. This process is extremely valuable in gathering information from NBA personnel. My staff and I look forward to supporting Luka throughout the process.”
None of those previously mentioned players also had their seasons cut short right on the cusp of the postseason by a global pandemic. I am obviously not Luka Garza and I do not speak for him or have any inside info, but if I were him and I had a year of eligibility left, and combined that with feedback from NBA scouts that I could use some improvements (in my mind, a bit of defensive work and improved jump shot consistency), I would be coming back to get a sense of closure.
Add in the cherry on top that is the rest of Iowa’s returning roster, including healthy Jordan Bohannon and Jack Nunge and a pretty much unchanged roster full of talent from 1-5? That has the makings of a deep tournament run in my mind.
But it’s also an extremely weak draft class. And if I were Garza, and I was told that I could make a splash in the draft after a season for the record books, that’s a mighty tempting offer that doesn’t come around every day.
The moral of the story here is that Garza’s time in an Iowa uniform has not definitively come to an end. I for one can’t blame him no matter what route he chooses. Regardless, we wish nothing but the best for Garza and at least get to dream at night thinking of highlights of his dominant season, whether it was cut short or not.