Basketball Notebook: Garza's Decision Will Be 'Relatively Soon'

Pete Ruden

At this point in the year, Iowa men’s basketball head coach Fran McCaffery would be making a trek around the state of Iowa on the I-Club trail.

Instead, he’s interacting with fans through Zoom meetings on Facebook Live.

McCaffery updated fans on the team’s current standing on Thursday, sharing the latest information on Luka Garza, players returning from injury, and the upcoming recruiting class.

Garza to make decision 'relatively soon'

The biggest question surrounding Iowa has to do with one of the best players in college basketball.

Iowa center Luka Garza decided to test the NBA Draft waters without hiring an agent in April, but the entire draft process has been thrown off due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

McCaffery said his star center has talked to agents — which is legal — to get feedback and information, while working with his father, Frank.

The draft date has been pushed from June 25 to Oct. 16, giving Garza until Aug. 3 to make his decision to stay in the draft or return to Iowa.

The Hawkeye fans may not have to wait that long, though. McCaffery said a decision should be coming from Garza “relatively soon.”

“He’ll have opportunities to play professionally should he choose to do so,” McCaffery said. “I think he feels very strongly about his teammates, about wanting to come back and be the national player of the year again and see what this team is capable of doing. He’s been a tremendous leader through this difficult period in the spring and summer.

“So, I think we’ll have an answer relatively soon. I always encourage my guys to get all of the feedback that you can so you feel really good about your decision.”

Injury update

Jordan Bohannon, Jack Nunge, and Patrick McCaffery will be returning to the Hawkeye lineup this season after missing the majority of the 2019-20 season.

McCaffery noted the different situations all three have gone through.

Nunge tore his ACL in Iowa’s fifth game, Bohannon underwent a second hip surgery, and Patrick McCaffery sat out due to residual health effects from a previous battle with cancer.

Nunge, who started all five games last season, should be ready to go for the season, McCaffery said.

“He started right away — that’s what they do now with ACL tears,” McCaffery said. “He’s been diligent with his rehabilitation schedule, not pushing himself too hard or pushing himself hard enough, and I’m confident he’ll be back in the lineup.”

Bohannon played 10 games last year, helping the Hawkeyes to wins over Texas Tech, Syracuse, and Iowa State.

While he didn’t look the same as he did in previous years, Bohannon will be fully healthy for a season-opener, a rarity throughout his career.

“He’s in the best shape of his life,” McCaffery said. “He has really worked hard. I think by having the surgery when he did gave himself ample time to get ready for next year.”

McCaffery said there’s a team of doctors, nutritionists, and strength coaches around Patrick McCaffery to help him figure out his body.

After his son played in two games last year, Fran McCaffery said he is optimistic about his return.

“Patrick McCaffery’s circumstances were a little bit different, overcoming cancer and dealing with his TSH levels with the medicine he takes and his energy levels as a result — how it relates to his strength, his ability to put on weight and compete at this level,” Fran McCaffery said.

A team full of depth

The Hawkeyes have received some favorable betting odds when it comes to a national championship in 2021, and it’s with good reason.

McCaffery said the upcoming team is the deepest he’s had at Iowa and potentially the deepest he’s coached in his career.

Along with the starters returning — McCaffery says there’s seven because of injuries — five new freshmen will be vying for playing time.

Ahron Ulis and Tony Perkins can play either guard position, while Kris and Keegan Murray both possess length and the ability to put the ball on the deck.

Finally, Josh Ogundele — a London, England, native who hasn’t been able to leave his home country — brings a physical post presence and versatility down low.

“It’s going to be a little bit of a challenge in terms of our guys recognizing we’ve got some veterans and being a little bit patient,” McCaffery said. “These young group is talented enough to play, and they know that. They’re also versatile, and they can provide some different things.”