By Jess Westendorf
Courtesy of The Daily Iowan
Now that summer is here, the Iowa men’s basketball team is in the middle of the off-season, and many Hawkeye fans might wonder what is in store for the upcoming season.
With the incoming freshmen arriving to campus for the start of summer classes, one has grabbed everyone’s attention.
Freshman Luka Garza showed off his talent on Sunday night in North Liberty in Prime Time action and planted the seed of what he will look like come November.
Garza didn’t have much time to settle in once he got to Iowa City —he dove headfirst into college.
On June 12, Garza graduated from Maret High School in Washington, D.C., then caught a flight to Iowa City to move into his dorm.
“I came down here that day [graduation day] around midnight, got settled in my room, and woke up the next day for classes,” he said.
But the 4-star recruit wasn’t too upset; “it was what I signed up to do, and I was ready for that.”
Garza has made a quick friend on the team in Iowa’s only other incoming freshman, Jack Nunge.
The two are teammates, friends, and also roommates. In the short amount of time that the two have had to know each other, they are off to a good start.
“It’s really fun [playing against Garza],” Nunge said. “I like him a lot; he is a great player. He is really strong and physical. I am really looking forward to these next four years with him.”
The 6-11, 240-pound center was named Gatorade’s 2017 D.C. Boys Basketball Player of the year after putting up an average of 24.6 points, 11.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 2.5 blocks.
In his first Prime Time game, he definitely surpassed those stats, putting up 41 points — the most of any Hawkeye who competed Sunday.
Along with Prime Time, the team is now practicing in Carver-Hawkeye, and Garza is confident he will be able to take on some of the best in the Big Ten.
“I love the challenge,” he said. “Having those guys is even better. We are going to push each other every day in practice, and all of us are going to get better by going and battling.”
Other than his abilities to score, Garza has incredible skill allowing him to move from the post to being a reliable power forward. That could give him an opportunity for some valuable game time.
Iowa does not have a true center, so in the past it has placed Cordell Pemsl, Dom Uhl, and Tyler Cook at center.
They were able to pull through and remain reliable on defense but struggled on offense, which is where Garza could come in and might possibly become Iowa’s first true center since Adam Woodbury was a Hawkeye.
Overall, Garza is making quite the impression not just on fans but his teammates.
“Luka was great out there tonight,” junior Brady Ellingson said. “He played good defense, and Luka had 41 points tonight. That is a great number; he needs to keep it up and keep being aggressive.”
Now that we can see a small slice of what the future could hold, Hawkeye fans might want to get excited, because at least one thing is for sure: Prime Time will be interesting this summer.
Article & picture courtesy of The Daily Iowan