Iowa's Luka Garza withdraws from NBA Draft, will return for senior season | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Sunday / September 20.
  • Iowa’s Luka Garza withdraws from NBA Draft, will return for senior season

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    Luka Garza will spend one more season at Iowa.

    The 6-foot-11 junior from Washington, D.C., announced Sunday that he will withdraw from the NBA Draft and return to campus for his senior season. The NCAA withdrawal deadline for the NBA Draft is Monday.

    “It’s been really strange and very difficult, especially with COVID-19, and that added a lot of uncertainty to what I had to decide,” Garza said on a conference call. “But at the end of the day I felt very confident that I wanted to come back and finish my career at the University of Iowa.

    “Coach [Fran] McCaffery saw something in me that not a lot of other coaches saw and he took a chance on me and I feel like he’s done so much for me and my career that I felt it wouldn’t be right not to finish off what I started here at the University of Iowa.

    “I’m very excited to be back with my teammates and look toward winning a national championship, winning a Big Ten championship. We have big goals in mind and once we get back on the court, we’re going to get to work and hopefully we can make some history this year.”

    Garza averaged 23.9 points and 9.8 rebounds last season and was named a consensus first-team All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year. Iowa finished 20-11, 11-9 in the Big Ten last season.

    Garza is not projected on the latest NBA mock draft from ESPN.com and could boost his stock by returning to campus.

    He is one of several high-profile Big Ten players to withdraw from the draft. Illinois sophomore guard Ayo Dosunmu and freshman big man Kofi Cockburn both announced this past week they would return to campus.

    “My mind was made up before [they decided] but it’s great to see those guys come back and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun matching up against that team,” Garza said. “They’re talented and obviously having those two guys back is going to help them a lot. I’m very excited for the Big Ten and it’s going to be really fun to be a part of it.”

    Garza said he was invited to the NBA Draft Combine, but got feedback from NBA teams about his perceived lack of athleticism.

    “Obviously, the concern was with my lack of athleticism and ability to move lateral, side-to-side on ball screens and stuff like that but there were some teams that saw my improvement from sophomore to junior year on the defensive end and my ability to protect the rim at a higher level,” he said. “I definitely learned a lot, that I could be more of a leader on the defensive end and on the offensive end, a lot of teams wanted to see me play-make a little bit more and be able to pass out of double-teams a little bit better and find guys off the dribble. But a lot of them were fans and feel that at some point I will be an NBA player.”

    As for whether there will actually be a college basketball season, Garza said

    “We all very feel confident that there will be a college basketball season, whether it be normal or delayed. Whatever happens, I made the right decision.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.