IOWA CITY, Iowa (KTIV)- The University of Iowa mens basketball program got some good news on Sunday. Hawkeye big man Luka Garza announced that he is withdrawing from the NBA draft and will return to Iowa City for his senior season.
Garza is the reigning Big Ten Player of the year. The 6-foot-11 center averaged just under 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game last season. Because of the pandemic, it was an unusual draft process for Garza. He had an invite to the draft combine, but unlike a normal year, he wouldn't have been able to workout for teams prior to the deadline to return to school. Garza had opportunities to play professionally but he felt like coming back for a senior season was best for him.
"I felt strongly that if I were to keep my name in I would have been drafted," said Garza. "I had a lot of opportunities in the NBA as well as in Europe for a lot of moeny but at the end of the day I feel like the teams that like me this year will like me next year and they'll like me even more because I've put in a lot of work this summer. I'm going to continue to put in work and I'm always improving my game."
With Garza's return, Iowa could be a top 10 team in a lot of preseason polls. The Hawkeyes return five of the top six scorers from last years 20 win team. Joe Wieskamp, Connor McCaffery, CJ Fredrick and Joe Toussant all return. The Hawks also get 5th year senior Jordan Bohannon back after missing most of last season following hip surgery. The potential of this years team was a also a big factor in Garza's decision to return.
"We had a couple practices before we got shut down and just feeling what that team that team was like and all of the guys out there it felt like a team that would be something special," said Garza. "It would be the best team that I've ever played for and possibly one of the best teams that Iowa's ever had."
Garza could still go back into the draft by August 17th, but he says unless a team tells him that he's the number one overall pick, he's staying at Iowa.