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Dawson Garcia Is Entering The Transfer Portal

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He says a return to Marquette is an option, but I don’t believe him.

2021 NBA G League Elite Camp
Hey, look, a picture from the Elite Camp.
Photo by Randy Belice/NBAE via Getty Images

Last weekend, Marquette freshman forward Dawson Garcia participated in the G League Elite Camp. The big man from Minnesota earned the invite after declaring for the 2021 NBA Draft without hiring an agent and thus preserving his NCAA eligibility. Four men were promoted from the Elite Camp to the NBA Combine.... but Garcia was not one of them.

Thus, when Garcia posted his first tweet in over two months to make an announcement on Friday evening, it was not a surprise that he had something to say. The contents of said announcement? A little bit more surprising.

For posterity’s sake:

I have appreciated the opportunity to explore my professional basketball career in recent months. As I continue with that process, I will also be entering my name in the NCAA transfer portal in an effort to research all of my options moving forward, including a potential return to Marquette

So, yeah, he’s in the portal now. Garcia says he’s leaving the door open to returning to Marquette, but I’ll be surprised if that happens.

Here’s my read on this situation, and please bear in mind, this has absolutely zero inside information attached to it.

Garcia didn’t get invited to the Combine while more than 60 potential draft picks did. Remember, there’s only 60 picks in the draft. NBA scouts and general managers got an up close and in person look at him, something they really couldn’t do during the 2020-21 season.... and said, “no thanks, we’re all good.” The message is clear: There is almost zero chance that Dawson Garcia is getting picked in the 2021 NBA Draft.

When Garcia announced that he would enter his name into the draft, he said if the feedback he gets says that he should return to school, then he would. Key word in that sentence? SCHOOL. He did not say “Marquette.” And now, feedback has been provided, obviously with much greater detail than “nah, we’re good,” but it clearly came with a message that Garcia is not a viable draft pick this summer.

And so, he’s in the portal, and I don’t expect him to be wearing blue and gold come November. Quite honestly, if he wanted to be at Marquette this coming fall, this announcement would have been letting us know that he was coming back for his sophomore season. Wild guess? I suspect not being invited to the Combine and the presumed negative feedback has come as a surprise to Garcia. If he truly thought that there was a real chance of returning to college for a sophomore season AND he wanted to have his options open for the future, he would have entered the portal in April when he declared for the draft. That would allowed coaches all over the country to check in with him and let him know that they were holding a space for him if he wanted to go to their school. Instead, he waited until now, deeeeeep into the transfer process, and a lot of spaces have been filled.

Don’t get me wrong: If Dawson Garcia wants to play NCAA basketball next season, there will be a spot for him somewhere. He’s too good for that not to be the case. It’s just that his options may be severely limited because of scholarship limits. I’m not saying he won’t end up somewhere nice, mostly because I have zero idea about anyone’s scholarship situation other than MU’s, but instead of three-quarters of the Major Seven banging down his door, he might only be looking at a handful of options.

Entering the portal also seems to indicate that Garcia views his future entirely through an NBA lens, at least for now. He was the leading scorer at the G League camp, so it certainly seems like there’d be a spot in the G League for him somewhere if he wanted to go that route. A mobile big man who can hit threes is valuable at any level of basketball, so in theory, there would be no shortage of foreign teams interested in bringing him aboard. That requires being mentally prepared to go spend half the year in Germany or wherever, and if Garcia really wanted to be a pro no matter what right now, then transferring would be a less interesting option than picking up a check written in Czech.

Since I expect Garcia to be elsewhere five months from now, I’m removing him from the scholarship chart. It now looks like this:

Shaka Smart now has two open scholarships for the 2021-22 season, although Garcia’s spot has always been open all along. One of them could still end up being Garcia, I suppose, and I certainly won’t jump up and down in anger if that’s the case. If Garcia is truly gone, that leaves Smart four scholarships to work with for the 2022 recruiting class. That’s worth noting, as there are no projected seniors for the 2022-23 season, so either Marquette will have no freshmen in 2023-24 or the Golden Eagles are going to have to pocket a spot or two for later.