By Matthew Weitzel
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa’s most decorated men’s basketball player Luka Garza has had a flurry of activity since leaving Iowa City to train and prepare for the 2021 NBA Draft.
Prior to the draft, Garza trained with the same work ethic and intensity that earned him consensus national player of the year honors. The native of Washington, D.C., traveled coast-to-coast for four straight weeks working out and interviewing with numerous NBA organizations. Garza said that the workouts were the most enjoyable part of the process.
“Traveling and playing with players who I never have played with or against was a lot of fun,” said Garza. “I was playing some of my best basketball of my career.”
Garza’s hard work resulted in the Detroit Pistons selecting Garza with the 52nd selection on July 29. He said hearing his name called was a surreal moment.
“What was most gratifying to me was seeing my parents’ reaction,” Garza said. “They have supported me so much. I worked as hard as I could because I want to be an NBA player.”
The morning after the draft, Garza was on a plane to Detroit for an introductory press conference and Mini Camp prior to traveling to Las Vegas for the NBA Summer League.
“The week of practice leading up to the games helped me adjust. It’s fun to play this style. My experience at Iowa really prepared me because we play fast, we push the ball, we try to score quick, which is similar to the NBA.”Luka Garza
Garza was solid as a reserve in Detroit’s first two games and blossomed in a starting role over the final three contests, all Pistons victories. He finished the Summer League averaging 15 points and 9.6 rebounds. Not only did his efforts earn him All-NBA Summer League Second Team honors, but more importantly, he inked a two-way contract with the Pistons.
“(Detroit) was excited that I stepped in and earned a contract the way that I did,” Garza said. “There are no guarantees as a second-round pick, so you have to fight and prove your worth. For me that was my main goal, to show the organization that I belong on their team.”
It has been an exhausting summer for Iowa’s only two-time Big Ten Player of the Year and first-team All-American. That being said, do not expect Garza to rest on his laurels any time soon.
“Everybody knows who I am. I will be getting right back to work,” said Garza. “I’m going to continue to work hard and push myself. I want to put myself in an even better position and take it brick by brick. It’s great to be part of an organization that believes in me and puts me in a position to be successful.”
The Pistons open preseason training camp the week after Labor Day. When asked about his plans in a couple weeks Garza said, “hopefully I will be back in Iowa City for the football opener.”