‘It’s going to be surreal’: Transformed Luka Garza hopeful going into draft day

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It’s been a busy summer for former Iowa center Luka Garza. That might be a bit of an understatement though, as he’s spent months getting ready for what he hopes will be the biggest moment of his basketball career.  

“The biggest thing for me at the beginning of this process was to transition and transform my body and kind of redefine who I am in terms of what I was doing in college, as opposed to what I’m going to be doing in the NBA,” Garza said.

Aside from the whole NBA thing, it’s nothing new for the 2021 Naismith Award winner.

“It was very similar to years past when I’ve made big transformations in summers,” Garza said.

So, what does that look like? Well, he’s transformed his body by losing 27 pounds.

“I changed my diet completely, I became flexitarian,” Garza said. “No carbs, no pasta, no bread.”

He’s also changing his game, working to expand his shooting range in order to fit today’s NBA.

“I know I’m not going to be posting up as much in the NBA, so I’m transitioning into being a stretch five guy,” Garza said. “My shot’s the best it’s ever been and I’m coming off a year where I shot 44 percent from three.”

You don’t just have to take his word for it though. His father Frank, has posted numerous videos of his son on Twitter, working on that shot over the past couple months. Seldom will you find a miss.

“The biggest thing is to show I’m good enough at that to be a big part of my game, the main part of my game,” Garza said. “I can play in an offense without a post-up, I don’t have to be on the block.”

His dad did a lot more than tweet, though. A former college basketball player himself, he’s has been there for his son every step of the way.

“Since teaching me the game, working with me every step of the way, continuing to work with me through this point,” Garza said. “There’s not many people who thought I’d be sitting here in this position and he’s one of them.”

He’s gotten to showcase all of the progress he’s made this summer during the NBA combine and workouts with twelve different NBA teams. The most recent being with the Boston Celtics.

“I think I’ve helped myself in every workout I’ve been a part of and that was the goal,” Garza said.

He even got to share the court with an old pal in Joe Wieskamp during a workout with Detroit.

“We were on opposing teams, which sucked,” said Garza on having to play his old teammate.

Garza claims each of their teams won a game during that matchup. Throughout the rest of the pre-draft process, however, they’ve been able to lean on each other.

“It’s been great to have someone going through it with you,” Garza said of Wieskamp. “We’ve been communicating a lot.”

The hard work culminates with the NBA Draft on Thursday night. All Garza has left to do now is wait.

“I did everything I could during this process,” Garza said. “I didn’t leave anything out on the court during any of these workouts. I played as hard as I could, worked as hard as I could and went as hard as I could.”

He’s one of the most decorated players in college basketball history. But if — he always says when — the moment comes where his name is called, it will be one of his best.

“It’s going to be surreal,” Garza said.

And it won’t just be about him.

“Everybody at some point has had a positive effect on me,” Garza said. “Really, it takes a village and I’ve had a great village.”

Garza is projected by many experts to go in the second round. To him though, it doesn’t matter when or where he goes. All he wants is the opportunity.

“I think I’m a guy that’s going to be able to help an organization some way,” Garza said. “And whatever way that is, I’m going to do it and do it to the best of my ability.”

The NBA Draft starts Thursday at 7 p.m.

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