Iowa’s Luka Garza withdraws from NBA Draft, will return to Hawkeyes for senior season


College basketball star Luka Garza said Sunday that he is withdrawing from the NBA Draft and returning to Iowa for his senior season in an announcement of historical significance for a Hawkeyes basketball program seeking its first Sweet 16 appearance of the 21st century.

Garza, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, should make the Hawkeyes an early favorite to make a deep postseason run. The 6-foot-11 center averaged 23.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game in a breakout junior season and will be the anchor of an impressive returning nucleus for Iowa.

“I’m very excited to be back with my teammates and look towards winning a national championship, winning a Big Ten championship,” Garza said. “We have big goals in mind, and once we get back on the court, we’re going to start getting to work and hopefully we can make some history this year.”

Five of the team’s top six scorers from last season’s 20-win team are now set to return, and the Hawkeyes also learned in May that former all-conference guard Jordan Bohannon will be back as a fifth-year senior after receiving a medical redshirt. The veteran 3-point marksman played in just 10 games last season before missing the rest of the year after undergoing hip surgery.

Iowa is slotted at No. 6 in the CBS Sports Top 25 and 1 rankings, which is an early indication of the expectations that the program will be dealing with now that Garza has announced he is returning.

His decision was among the most-anticipated in the country ahead of the Monday withdrawal deadline for early NBA Draft entrants. Despite the gaudy numbers he posted as a junior, questions surrounded Garza’s defensive versatility and athleticism on the professional level. 

By returning for his final season of college eligibility, Garza will have a chance to answer those questions while collecting more individual and team honors. As a unanimous All-American from the 2019-20 season, he’ll be an early favorite for national player of the year as the Hawkeyes compete  with the likes of Michigan State, Illinois and Wisconsin for supremacy in what should be another brutal season of Big Ten basketball.

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