By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The 2021 NBA Draft will forever be a proud moment for the Iowa men’s basketball program.
Because for the first time in 23 years, Iowa had two players selected in the draft as shooting guard Joe Wieskamp and center Luka Garza both were taken in the second round on Thursday.
The 6-foot-6, Wieskamp, who is from Muscatine, was picked by the San Antonio Spurs with the 41st pick overall, while the 6-11 Garza, who grew up near Washington D.C., was taken by the Detroit Piston with the 52nd pick overall.
It marks the first time since 1998 that Iowa has had two players selected in the NBA Draft, with shooting guard Ricky Davis having been picked in the first round by the Charlotte Hornets and forward Ryan Bowen taken late in the second round by the Denver Nuggets.
The challenge now for Wieskamp and Garza is to make their team’s roster, but as second-round picks there is no guarantee that will happen because only first-round picks have guaranteed roster spots and the money that comes with it.
But you have to like Wieskamp’s chances as a shooting guard with a 6-11 wing span, a 42-inch vertical leap and the ability to make 3-points shots.
“He puts it on the deck and moves really well without the ball and finds open areas,” said ESPN’s Jay Bilas about Wieskamp. “It does not take him long by the time he catches it to the time he releases it. He’s very efficient and also a pretty darn good passer. Not a great defender, but his shooting and his ability to space the floor is what got him drafted.”
And why would anyone rule out Garza earning a roster spot with Detroit after what he accomplished at Iowa, where he ended his career in March as the National Player of the year, and as Iowa’s all-time leading scorer with 2,306 points?
The knock against Garza is that he doesn’t have the speed and quickness to play in the NBA, but he does have a variety of post moves, a potent 3-point shot, a motor that never stops, and a work ethic that would compare favorably to just about anybody in the NBA.
“I think the issue with Garza is his ability to guard on the perimeter, pick-and-rolls when he gets drawn away from the baskets, and he’s not explosive off the floor,” Bilas said. “He’s not a lob threat. You didn’t see Iowa throwing lobs to him, or him getting tip dunks or anything like that.
“But his footwork is really good and he can absolutely score. He can stretch a defense on the offensive end.”
Wieskamp is the first non-senior from Iowa to be selected in the NBA draft since Ricky Davis as a freshman was picked by the Hornets with the 21st pick overall in 1998. Bowen as a senior was the 26th player selected in the second round in 1998.
Davis played 12 seasons in the NBA, while Bowen lasted for 10 seasons, and is now an assistant coach for the Denver Nuggets.
Wieskamp helped his cause by performing well at the NBA Combine, while Garza helped his cause by becoming a Hawkeye legend over four seasons.
Garza will be reunited in Detroit with former Iowa teammate Tyler Cook, who declared for the NBA Draft as a junior in 2019, but then went undrafted. Cook signed as a free agent with the Pistons this past season, and saw considerable playing time down the stretch.
Wieskamp is the fifth Iowa Hawkeye from the state of Iowa to be selected in the NBA Draft since 1990, joining Davis, Bowen, Russ Millard and Adam Haluska.