Iowa Hawkeyes Player Previews: Luka Garza

By Matthew Lundeen on October 17, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Luka Garza meets the press.
@IowaHoops (Brian Ray / Hawkeye Sports)
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LUKA GARZA

Bio: True Freshman 6'11", 235 lbs. (Washington D.C.)
Last Season: 24.6 PPG, 11.7 RPG (High School), Gatorade Player of the Year in Washington D.C.

What We Saw Last Season

Nothing in Iowa City, but in the nation's capital, Garza absolutely tore it up as a senior at Maret. Garza's game was so impressive that 247, Rivals, and ESPN all have him listed as a four star recruit. ESPN even listed him as #100 in their Top 100 recruits in the country, while he just missed the cut for 247 (#117) and Rivals (#111).

Over the summer, Iowa fans were first introduced to Garza during the Prime Time League, where he finished second in scoring (30.7 PPG) and fourth in rebounding (11.2) on a team that lost the championship game by four points in overtime. 

And last but not least, Garza was the star of Iowa's overseas trip to Europe, where he led the Hawkeyes to a 4-0 record (albeit against questionable competition), averaging 22.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 70% from the floor and 80% from the line. 

What We Need to See this Season

On the offensive side of the ball, Iowa appears to be pretty loaded. I know that might sound crazy with the departure of Peter Jok, but Iowa has a number of guys that make this look like a team that is capable of having another well-above average offense. Garza could certainly help out on the offensive side of the ball, of course, as he showed a penchant for scoring not only in the defense-optional PTL, but also in Iowa's European exhibition this summer. Not only are Iowa fans excited by what Garza showed overseas, but so is Sports Illustrated's college projections system

That being said, Iowa could really use Garza on defense, where his 6'11" frame and 7'3" wingspan can hopefully give the Hawks some much needed length at the rim. Last season's team was Fran McCaffery's worst in the last five seasons in terms of blocks, field goal attempts allowed near the rim, and field goal percentage at the rim. That had a lot to do with a lack of height, thanks to the recent graduations of guys like Gabe Olaseni, Jarrod Uthoff, and Adam Woodbury from the program. Fran values length and last year's team had it at basically every position except for the five spot. Luka Garza should shore up that deficiency almost immediately. 

Best Case Scenario

Garza is a star from day one. His offensive game is so versatile that not only can he post up his opponents, but he can take them away from the basket and knock down the three when they decide to sag off of him. Much of the offense runs through him, as the ball always touches his hands at least once, and he then facilitates an outstanding inside-outside game. On top of his half-court presence, he shows that he can flourish in Fran McCaffery's up-tempo, fast break-heavy system. 

On defense, his size immediately pays dividends and not only helps Iowa defend big post players, but it also helps alter the shots of any opposing back court player that penetrates the defense. 

In total, Garza manages to average 11 points (on an incredibly deep team), nine rebounds, and two blocks in about 22 minutes per game. He would play more minutes, but Iowa's roster is loaded with options at the four and five spots.

Most Likely Scenario

Garza starts from day one and does a fine job for a freshman. His offense looks good against the Chicago States of the world, but once Big Ten season roles around, he shows flashes of brilliance, mixed with the usual inconsistency of a true freshman in Big Ten play. That's perfectly fine, though, because with Cook, Bohannon, Pemsl, Moss, and Baer, this Hawkeye team has more than enough depth to allow Garza to grow into a bigger offensive role. 

On defense, Garza immediately helps Iowa's interior presence. He doesn't turn into senior-year Adam Woodbury or Erek Hansen overnight, but his long arms and big body immediately bolsters Iowa's inside defense and helps vastly improve this unit from last year. 

Overall, his stat line at the end of the year should look something like seven points, five rebounds, and one block in 20 minutes per game. He probably could have played more and his numbers would have looked better, but, again, Iowa just simply has too many guys that need playing time. 

One Request

Please make my most likely scenario look stupidly conservative. 

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