Does Luka Garza have what it takes to be an impact player, or even a role player, at the next level?
Garza won the Wooden Award in 2021 for Most Outstanding Player nationwide after a season that saw him average 24.1 points an 8.7 rebounds for the Hawkeyes, but critics have long pointed out that he needs to get quicker to deal with NBA caliber offensive players.
Despite his incredible efficiency, shooting over 55% from the field last season and 44% from behind the three-point line, Garza is still seen as too “lumbering” to be trusted as a full time player by many NBA scouts.
According to the longtime, independent draft site NBADraft.net, Garza is not even expected to be picked among the first two rounds of players, despite his impressive college pedigree and four years spent carrying the Hawks to the upper echelon of the Big Ten, almost single handedly.
But now, the Hawkeyes center is hoping to change all that by changing his body in preparation for the 2021 NBA Draft — and judging by the self-made superstar he became in Iowa City, it’s hard to bet against him.
Garza Sheds Weight in Preparation for Life at the Next Level
The Facebook page Hawkeye Heaven broke the news recently with a single picture of the Hawkeyes star showing off his lighter, more nimble physique.
Garza has always utilized his bulk to snag rebounds down low for the Hawkeyes, but it’s his potent inside-outside game that could propel him to the big time as a professional, whether in the NBA or overseas.
The Washington, D.C. product came to Iowa in the 230-250 range and continued adding bulk to withstand the physicality of the Big Ten, but now it appears as though he’s working to trim down, as shown in the picture above.
According to 247 Sports, Garza has been working out with reckless abandon since leaving the Hawkeyes, and lost 22 pounds in order to up his “quicks” for the next level.
The pace of the game is much quicker in the NBA, with its 24-second shot clock, and the quick whistle of the referees makes pre-meditated physicality of any kind far less of an issue.
The news came courtesy of Garza’s father, Frank, who has worked with his son on improving his game for quite some time in Iowa City.
Does Garza Have What It Takes to Evolve His Game and Get Drafted?
Based on Garza’s work ethic, it’s safe to assume that he will become a more NBA ready prospect by the time July 29’s NBA Draft rolls around.
Scouts overlooking him will no doubt look at him in a different light after seeing the effort he’s putting in to transform his body, while hopefully keeping the post moves, jumper, and intensity that made him a college superstar.
According to SI.com, the Indiana Pacers are projected to take Luka in the second round. Garza has also been projected by the same site to the San Antonio Spurs.
While most outsiders will look at Garza as a case of whether or not a “bulky” and “throwback” Big Ten player can hang at the highest level, ultimately Garza knows what fans across the country who’ve watched him play know:
Luka Garza will sink or swim on his own merits, and with the talent and work ethic he possesses, there’s a very real chance he could surprise some people in 2021
Check out a scouting report on Garza from YouTube analyst Adam Spinella below: