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Iowa's Garza on fence over NBA draft 'unknown'


The “unknowns” for current NBA prospects could result in another year of college basketball for Iowa star Luka Garza, the projected preseason national player of the year in 2020-21.

Garza, who has entered the 2020 NBA draft while retaining his eligibility, told ESPN he’ll make his decision about returning to school or turning pro based on the conversations and interviews he’ll have with NBA executives in the coming weeks and months.

He said the inability to meet with the NBA’s power brokers for workouts — if the current situation persists — will play a role in his decision.

“I think it all depends on what teams are telling me in these interviews and what they’re seeing on film,” said Garza, the Wooden Award runner-up after averaging 23.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game last season. “I’m not leaving for an unknown or an uncertain.

“That’s the one thing about this process, is I need to know for sure there will be an opportunity for me next year [in the NBA] because if I don’t, it’s too risky to leave behind what I have at Iowa. I don’t want to do anything that I’m not sure about.”

Earlier this month, the NCAA pushed back its deadline to withdraw from the draft from June 3 to an unknown date because of uncertainty surrounding it.

Garza is not listed in ESPN’s current two-round mock draft.

If he returns, the Hawkeyes will enter next season as a legitimate threat to win the Big Ten and a national title. The program has not reached the Final Four since 1980, and it has not won the Big Ten since 1979. Iowa is ranked No. 5 on ESPN’s Way-Too-Early Top 25 rankings, under the presumption that Garza will return.

Garza said he’s not “leaning” toward returning to Iowa or going pro, but he also said he wants an opportunity to prove himself at NBA workouts, which have been disrupted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. He said the NCAA’s new deadline is something he’s anticipating.

“This year is obviously an interesting process with everything that’s going on,” Garza said. “I haven’t been able to work out in front of teams. I think I could prove a lot of things in workouts. Unfortunately, I’m not able to do that.”

Garza said he has dreamed of playing in the Final Four since he was a kid, but the NBA is his ultimate goal.

“I’m in no rush to be a professional, but when the time is right, I’m going to make that decision and do what’s best for me and my family,” Garza said. “At the same time, I obviously see what the potential is of our team next year. Those are all factors that are playing in my head when I’m coming towards a decision.

“The biggest thing right now is when the NCAA is going to make that deadline for me to make a decision.”



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