And there you have it. LUKA BACK, people. This is not a drill.
“My heart is in Iowa City,” said Garza. “I love this place too much to leave it. I love my teammates, coaches, community, fans, and university. It would have been way too hard to close the book without the last chapter,” Garza told Hawkeye Sports in a release.
The uncertainty of COVID-19’s emergence ended the Iowa Hawkeyes’ season before they could play in any tournaments to validate an unexpected 2019-20 season. Their regular season was spearheaded by Garza, who put up 23.9 points and 9.8 rebounds, en route to their 20-11 (11-9) regular season record which saw them finish 5th in the Big Ten.
The inability to validate the success with a potential Sweet 16 (or more) proved to be too much for Garza to overlook, especially with Iowa returning Jordan Bohannon and Jack Nunge to fill the roles of Bakari Evelyn and Ryan Kriener. Garza will be the frontrunner for national player of the year awards and the Hawkeyes’ expectations are as high as they’ve been in the Fran McCaffery era.
He ended the season with 740 points for the highest-scoring season in Hawkeye history, 41 points clear of John Johnson’s 1969-70 campaign. He was Big Ten player of the year, a consensus first team All-American and winner of the Kareem Abdul-Jabar award for best center in the nation.
At the beginning of the draft cycle, Garza said he would only depart if he had a guaranteed spot on an NBA roster. It appears as if that is not the case, and whatever chance Iowa has at achieving their team-wide goals is worth pursuing.
Garza is already an all-time great Hawkeye as his 2020 season was the best individual season a Hawk has had in decades, if not all time. Finishing his career as the all-time leading scorer in program is well within his reach.
He joins his Big Ten brethren in Ayo Dosunmu, Kofi Cockburn, and Isaiah Livers (among others) in returning to school to battle it out for a conference championship.
We’ll have more in the coming weeks as to what we can expect from Iowa, however the college basketball season may look. Needless to say, we’ve never been more excited for one than 2020-21.