Luka Garza Portrait

Luka Garza

Hawkeye men’s basketball player Luka Garza told The Gazette’s Mike Hlas last week that he will announce his decision Sunday whether to stay for his senior year or enter the NBA Draft. Ten things that might have swirled around his mind the last few months as he deliberated:

1. “This is it! I’ve worked my whole life to get to this point. All those hours in the gym. All those wind sprints. All those shots I put up. All the sweat, blood, tears, elbows to the face. I can’t wait to sign that professional contract. I can’t wait to see myself on a basketball card. I can’t wait to hear Adam Silver call my name on draft night.”

2. “I’ve got all the tools. I’m tall, athletic, strong, play hard. I’ve improved my shot. Yeah, maybe I’m a little slow, but it’s not like I’m the guy who’s going to be assigned to guard Ja Morant.”

3. “But, hell, in 6 million years of human civilization, the one time I’m ready to enter the NBA we get hit with a coronavirus plague? How’s that for lousy timing! They’re not positive how the combine is going to work or what the draft will look like. They’re not even sure what next year’s season schedule will be.”

4. “And I never thought I’d say this, but why do I have to be so tall and so good in the post? I grew up watching YouTube clips of Olajuwon and Shaq, Wilt, Russell, and Kareem. This was a center’s league, but now centers are expendable, or at the very least interchangeable. No one in the NBA feeds the post anymore. That’s how Dwight Howard went from first-team NBA to journeyman in a matter of just a few years. It’s a 3-and-D league now. Is my outside shot good enough?”

5. “Maybe I should go to Coach McCaffery and tell him I’ll come back for my senior year on one condition: The offense has got to afford me more opportunities to shoot from the outside. I can’t bring a 1991 basketball game to the 2021 NBA. Being 6-foot-11 isn’t enough anymore. I’ve got to be able to stretch defenses with a reliable outside shot.”

6. “Plus” *sigh* “I really would love one more season in Iowa City with my guys. Even Jordan is coming back. We’re being mentioned as a possible NCAA Championship contender. If I leave, I’ll never have a chance to play for that. I mean, look at Carmelo. He’s never won an NBA Championship, but he’s got an NCAA title, and that’s something his peers like LeBron, Wade and Chris Paul would all love to have. An NCAA title means a lot.”

7. “And I know I should be thinking about my own future at this point, but if I’m being honest, everyone knows the Hawks’ title chances drop to zero if I leave. We could be a top-five team if I stay, but if I leave, we might not even be top five in the Big Ten. How can I do that to my friends?”

8. “Then again, who knows if there will even be a college season? What a complete and total waste of time it would be if I came back and college basketball season was canceled because of COVID. And that’s a real possibility. Those NBA guys can exist in a bubble. Us college players can’t. We have to go to class and live in dorms and apartment buildings with people who might not be careful about wearing a mask or washing their hands.”

9. “Man, when I put it like that it sounds like an easier decision than I thought it would be. Go pro. Begin the dream. Get the money. Seize the less uncertain of two uncertain options. It’s the logical thing to do as long as I’m certain I’ll get picked in the first round. But is that a certainty?”

10. “I don’t know. My mind and emotions are all over the place. I know Hawkeye fans will understand and support me no matter what I choose. The problem is that I don’t know which choice is the right one.”

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.