Luka Garza, fresh off arguably the greatest single season in Iowa men's basketball history and a consensus All-American selection, announced on Friday that he's declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft.
Im a Hawkeye for life pic.twitter.com/VG0rJaLHeZ— Luka Garza (@LukaG_55) April 10, 2020
More precisely, Garza is making himself available to receive official feedback from NBA scouts and front offices. To be eligible for that feedback, a player must declare for the NBA Draft. Players who depart college early currently have until June 3 to decide whether or not to return to school -- assuming they don't hire an agent. Garza has no intention of hiring an agent at this time, as emphasized by the note in his statement that "throughout this process I will be KEEPING MY ELIGIBILITY." (emphasis in original)
In a conference call with reporters shortly after releasing his statement, Garza provided additional clarity on his thought process.
Luka Garza said he won't go unless an NBA team has a plan for him. He has no interest in leaving Iowa for a G-League spot. It's all about fit.— Scott Dochterman (@ScottDochterman) April 10, 2020
Very mature from Luka Garza: "I'm not gonna go in without 100% confidence of being able to make a roster. I don't see any interest in ending up in the G-League without any type of deal or anything like that. I think that's something I could be able to get after my senior year."— Scott Dochterman (@ScottDochterman) April 10, 2020
Luka Garza says that the potential for next season's Iowa team is valued "very highly" by him going through the process. Knows that the team can compete for a Big Ten championship and more.— David Eickholt (@DavidEickholt) April 10, 2020
My gut feeling upon reading those comments: unless an NBA team absolutely loves Garza and is willing to guarantee that he'll be drafted, he's very likely to be back in Iowa City next year. Currently, Garza doesn't have much of a presence on mock drafts; ESPN ranks him as the 81st best prospect in this year's field -- which doesn't bode well for your odds of being selected in a 60-person draft. But we'll have to wait and see if impressions of Garza change now that he's officially declared and can receive feedback from NBA scouts and front offices.
Of course, like everything else in the world right now, the pre-draft process figures to look a little strange this year. One of the key pre-draft activities are the scouting combines where NBA teams have an opportunity to see several NBA draft prospects compete against one another; will those combines even be possible in the current pandemic? That probably depends on what things look like, public health-wise, in May. Will the draft (and, thus, the scouting combines) get pushed back to a date later in the summer? There are a lot of questions and very few hard answers about this situation right now. All we can do is wait and see how things unfold.
As Iowa fans, this overall process should not be anything strange or unfamiliar to us. Rather, Garza is following in the footsteps of several past Iowa players in going through this process, as Frank Garza, his father, noted on Twitter.
Gjs 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. Im grateful to Fran, staff and Hawkeye Nation for your support of #55#Hawkeye4ever https://t.co/GLM75GV0sm— Frank Garza (@frankgarza57) April 10, 2020
Several other players have been in the same position that Garza is now and they've gone through this process and received valuable feedback about their NBA Draft prospects and what skills they should work on. Garza is just the latest in that lineage to do so.
Have we seen the last of Luka Garza in an Iowa uniform? I don't know and we probably won't know for a few weeks or months. As I said earlier, my gut says "no" -- that he'll be back in Carver-Hawkeye Arena next season, dominating opposing bigs night after night. But my gut is hardly any sort of official source. If we have seen the last of Garza in an Iowa uniform, well, it was a beautiful run and he provided us with some magnificent basketball, especially this past season when he produced dominant displays on a nightly basis. We wish Garza well as he goes through the pre-draft process.