The Luka Garza story… a story of Hard-Work and dedication paying off.
Luka Garza was born in Washington D.C. on December 21st, 1998. He grew up in the Virginia suburbs of Washington D.C. He attended Maret High School, which as far as I can tell have never had an NBA Player alumni, and in the coming years, that’s due to change. Luka learned the game of Basketball from his Father, Frank who played Basketball at Idaho for 2 seasons in 1983-84, 1984-85, he was a 6’6″ forward according to (sports-reference.com) he recorded 9.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.0 APG in his First Season, and 14.5 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.3 APG in his 2nd season. That’s a very solid D-1 Hoops career, he played before the 3pt line was introduced into the College Game so it was a bit different but the elder Garza thrived In College.
Luka had quite the prestigious High School Career, averaging 26.1 PPG as a Junior, but he only made twelve 3-Pointers made and weren’t see as much of an outside threat at the time. In his senior season, he had 24.5 PPG. Garza ended up a top 120 recruit according to 247sports in the Class of 2017. He had 20 listed offers from schools like Alabama, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Georgia, Indiana, Louisville, Penn State, Northwestern, Virginia Tech and even held an Ivy League offer from Princeton, not only does that show his Basketball skill, but his intelligence being able to secure an Ivy League offer. On September 10th, 2016 Luka Garza committed for Iowa to play for Coach Fran McCaffrey.
2017-18 was Garza’s Freshman season, he had quite a good Freshman campaign, averaging 12.1 PPG and 6.4 RPG while shooting 54% from the field, 34% from deep as a 6’11″ Big-Man and a true freshman. Even though Garza had a solid season, the Hawkeyes were a measly 14-19 (4-14 in B1G Ten play) just a forgettable season but that Stat-line wasn’t good enough for Garza to take a break following the season. He went back to the gym as hard as ever to put up an even better Sophomore Season.
Although some things are out of your control, in September of 2018 Garza had a Nine-Pound Cyst removed from his Abdomen, obviously hampering what could’ve been a huge 2 months of workouts before the season started. Can we take a guess how much time Garza missed with that injury? The answer is zero, He not only played but started against UMKC on November 8th, 2018, and he logged 17 minutes, 8 points, 3 rebounds in a 14 point Hawkeye victory, only 2 months after having a Nine-Pound Cyst removed from his abdomen. That’s pretty crazy that he was not only able to return but score 8 points in 17 minutes, only 2 months like something out of your control like that injury occurs. Garza still had a good season but a slight drop in production for Freshman Season, finishing the season averaging 13 PPG, 4.5 RPG, but 53% from the line and 29% from deep. They ended the season losing to Tennessee with Admiral Schofield, Grant Williams, Lamonte Turner, Jordan Bone, Jordan Bowden in the round of 32, after beating 7 seeded Cincinnati in the Round of 64.
Luka was not satisfied after that season, and he went on a Family Vacation to Bosnia, where his mother is from and has family there. He was working out with family members working on all facets of the game of Basketball daily for hours on top of hours, on vacation in Bosnia. Not your typical “Family Vacation” I’m sure in most folks vacation plans don’t include, working out for the majority of the day. Luka Garza is just a different kind of person though, there’s no satisfaction for him and that’s a brilliant attitude to have for a guy who was doubted very often by people for not being super athletic, maybe not being a great shooter, not being a good defender, always seemed like people had a roadblock out in front of Garza. He was never going to let people who doubted him win. In the first game of the 2019-20 season, Garza had 20 Points against SIU-Edwardsville and he tallied 12 rebounds to go with it in a Hawkeye victory. Then Garza, in games 3 and 4 of the season against Oral Roberts and North Florida he had 30 points vs ORU, 29 against UNF. Most people swept those under-the-rug due to the opponents they played, then against the team who lost to UVA in the 2018-19 championship, Texas Tech, Garza had 17 points and added 12 rebounds in a Hawkeye upset win. Then starting with the B1G Ten/ACC Challenge on December 3rd, against Syracuse, Garza had 23 and 9, a great performance for the Big-Man. On December 6th in a 103-91 loss against Michigan, he had 44 points on 17/32 from-the-field along with 8 rebounds. Garza went on to have 20+ on a nightly-basis for the most part, leading the Hawkeyes to a 25th overall ranking and 21 wins in the 2019-20 season. His stats for the season? 23.9 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.8 BPG and was 2nd in Player of the year voting behind Dayton’s Obi Toppin. I would’ve voted for Garza if I had a vote I would have voted for Garza more than likely, he also went 54% from-the-field, and 34% from three. Obviously there was no resolution to the College Basketball Season so there’s no telling where Iowa may have ended up in the NCAA Tournament.
Now, Luka Garza faces quite a unique situation, he nearly won the Naismith Player of the year award, and even if he did he would still likely not be drafted this season. Just looking back since 2000 all the guys who won the award have been drafted and most happened in the first round, that’s pretty unreal that Garza nearly won the award and he won’t be selected. Garza is an elite offensive player and that’s the most sought after thing in the NBA these days. He’s 6’11” and he’s a very good shooter and works harder than anyone I have ever seen.
Now assuming Luka Garza returns this season which he likely will, Iowa will be a top-10 preseason team with the Preseason unanimous Naismith Award Winner. It’s really inspiring to see Garza go from a solid player who probably was never seen as a star in the sport, and now he’s probably the best College Basketball player. One big thing for Garza this season is that Jordan Bohannon one of the best shooters in the sport returns from injury if he’s getting doubled kick it out to Bohannon, Wieskamp, Frederick, or on the other side of the paint to Jack Nunge, there are so many options. I know it seems crazy to say but I wouldn’t be surprised if Garza averaged 30/10/4. It may seem too much but I can see Garza doing it, based on the videos I’ve seen of him he looks like he’s in great shape, probably his best ever. By the way, his Father Frank should be a Coach the way he pushes and teaches Luka seems like a coach. Garza when he returns will be must-watch Television in 2020-21.