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Iowa star Luka Garza declares for 2020 NBA Draft, keeps eligibility

Iowa star center Luka Garza averaged 23.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game this past season. Photo courtesy of Iowa Hawkeyes Athletics/Official Website
Iowa star center Luka Garza averaged 23.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game this past season. Photo courtesy of Iowa Hawkeyes Athletics/Official Website

April 10 (UPI) -- Iowa junior center Luka Garza, who was the runner-up for the John R. Wooden Award this season, has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft while maintaining his college eligibility.

"This year was one I could never have imagined," Garza said in a statement Friday. "None of the awards or accolades could have happened without the University of Iowa, my coaches, and my teammates. Choosing [Iowa] coach [Fran] McCaffery and Iowa was the best decision I've ever made.

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"With that said, after meeting with my family and coaches I decided that I will be declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft, and throughout this process I will be keeping my eligibility. The NBA has been my dream since I started playing basketball as a kid and I'm going to do everything I can to pursue that.

"If it ends up not being the right time to make the move to the NBA, I'm excited about the potential of what my senior season as a Hawkeye could have in store."

Garza, listed at 6-foot-11 and 260 pounds, averaged 23.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game for the Hawkeyes before the NCAA canceled the remainder of the season because of the coronavirus pandemic. He scored a school-record 740 points this season, breaking the program's 50-year-old mark previously set by John Johnson in 1970.

Garza was named the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year in the year-end positional awards from the Basketball Hall of Fame. He was also second behind Dayton star Obi Toppin for the Wooden Award, which is given annually to the nation's most outstanding player.

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Players can enter their name in the NBA Draft process and maintain college eligibility if they don't sign with an agent and withdraw from the draft by May 29. The 2020 NBA Draft is tentatively scheduled for June 25 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

ESPN lists Garza as the No. 86 prospect in the upcoming draft.

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