The Sporting News‘ reigning National Player of the Year in college basketball — Iowa center Luka Garza — has announced that he is withdrawing his name from the list of eligible candidates for selection in the 2020 NBA Draft and returning to school for his senior season. Garza made the announcement about his basketball future via Instagram on Sunday.
The post included a short video clip that began with the phrase “HE’S BACK” in all caps, after which highlights of the 21-year-old big man in action for the Hawkeyes was shown. The video package concluded by stating “IOWA HOOPS 2020-21,” after which the school’s logo was shown.
Fans were quick to express their excitement in the post’s comment thread, with one stating, “We gonna win the national championship now.”
Garza originally declared for the draft in April, but retained his collegiate eligibility as he did not hire an agent.
He returns to an Iowa squad that has won 20-plus games in each of the last two seasons under head coach Fran McCaffery. After receiving a postseason invite, the team beat the No. 7-seeded Cincinnati Bearcats in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament. Garza led the way in the contest with a game-high 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting. However, their tournament run was ended in the following round as the result of an overtime loss to the second-seeded Tennessee Volunteers.
While Garza was a key cog for Iowa that season, he reached new heights as a junior in 2019-20. During his third year in Iowa City, the 6-foot-11, 260-pound pivot man averaged nearly 24 points and 10 rebounds per contest. Moreover, he became a legitimate long-range threat for the Hawkeyes, knocking down 39 three-pointers over 31 games at 36-percent clip. Garza led the Big Ten Conference in multiple offensive categories as a result.
Although postseason play in college basketball was ultimately cancelled in the spring amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Garza’s team would have likely participated in the NCAA Tournament for a second straight year thanks in large part to his efforts. Now, they’ll have a shot to advance to March Madness again in 2021.
Despite his strong collegiate resume, Garza was likely a longshot to hear his name called on draft night. According to ESPN‘s Top 100 big board, he ranked as the 79th-best prospect overall and 14th among players at his position.
While Garza will be returning to school, LaMelo Ball is preparing to hear his name called early in the upcoming draft. As shared previously by The Inquisitr, his father — LaVar Ball — would like to see the star guard end up with the New York Knicks.