CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Luke Garza has a game that grows on you.
He didn’t turn a lot of heads going into high school, one reason he wound up at the Maret School (Washington, D.C.), instead of a Washington-area powerhouse like DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) or Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.).
Since entering Maret, he’s grown to 6-11 and 250 pounds and was an American Family Insurance ALL-USA D.C. first team player this past season, averaging 25.1 points and 12.5 rebounds a game. In January of 2015, he had only three offers. Now, he has 15, including a recent one from Louisville.
“Iowa is recruiting me hard, Louisville is recruiting me hard, Georgia, Pittsburgh, Alabama, Indiana, GW (George Washington), St. Joe’s and Northwestern are all recruiting me hard,” Garza said. “I went on an official to Iowa and an unofficial to Iowa, and an unofficial to Columbia with their old staff. I had to reschedule a couple of visits because of the camp.”
While he doesn’t have splashy athleticism, he understands how to use his height and has a nice outside shot, hitting six of 11 three-pointers attempted so far in the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp here. He was a late addition to the camp and has made good use of his time, showing a solid fundamental game. He opened the camp with a 16-point game Wednesday and had 15 points in a game Thursday night.
“I got a late invite to this, so I had to redo my plans,” Garza said. “It’s humbling and very exciting for me. I worked hard to get to this point and it’s all coming together for me. To improve, I have to get faster with better footwork. I need to get a lot stronger. I was a lot heavier and had to lose a lot of weight (30 pounds), so I have to build that back up in the right way.”
His father, Frank, was a 6-7 forward for the University of Idaho. His mother, Selja, played professionally in Europe and his uncle, Teoman Alibegovic, played at Oregon State.
“I can stretch the floor and I can hit the mid-range shot and have pretty good moves in the post,” Garza said. “I have to go with my advantages. I’m not the most athletic guy, so I have to use fakes and stuff to get around. When guys don’t box out, I have to take advantage.”
Unlike when he plays for Team Takeover in summer club ball, Garza has to rotate in and out during shifts at the camp. That’s something Garza says he’ll likely have to deal with in college.
“Here, I can’t miss the first shot,” Garza said. “I have to hit right away, so it’s really helping me. That’s what it’s going to be like in college. If I don’t produce early, they’ll have to take me out.”