On Tuesday afternoon, Stadium’s Jeff Goodman reported the news that Marquette freshman forward Dawson Garcia will be withdrawing his name for consideration for the 2021 NBA Draft. Goodman included a note that the big man from Minnesota will be considering between returning to Marquette and transferring, either to Arizona, North Carolina, or Illinois.
Marquette transfer Dawson Garcia told @Stadium he will withdraw from the NBA draft. Looking at Arizona, UNC, Illinois and a possible return to Marquette.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) July 6, 2021
The news that Garcia is removing his name from draft consideration is not surprising. Garcia was invited to the G League Elite Camp, which doubled as a tryout for players who weren’t notable enough to get invited straight to the NBA Draft Combine. Four men were promoted from the Elite Camp to the Combine, but Garcia was not one of them. The clear message from NBA scouts and general managers at that point was that they did not see Garcia as even a top 70 prospect in this summer’s draft, as there were 69 players invited to the Combine.
If that alone wasn’t enough to make it unsurprising that Garcia was pulling out — can’t go undrafted if you’re not eligible to be drafted, right? — then his announcement that he was entering the transfer portal made it pretty clear that the draft wasn’t foremost on his mind. If Garcia was insistent on starting a pro career, then there’s no reason to explore transfer options. Just go through the draft and let the chips fall where they may after that. Instead, he entered the portal, and now he’s all the way out of the draft.
Garcia has repeatedly let it be known that he’s considering returning to Marquette to play for new head coach Shaka Smart in addition to transferring for his second season of college hoops. The options that Garcia has left open to him make it clear that playing for a coach that has freshly taken over a program isn’t a dealbreaker, after all. Hubert Davis was promoted to head coach at UNC after Roy Williams retired, and Tommy Lloyd was hired off of Mark Few’s bench at Gonzaga to replace Sean Miller at Arizona. Counting Smart, that’s three of Garcia’s four options involving a new guy running the show. It certainly looks like Davis is likely to have the smoothest transition of the three, but he’s still a first time head coach taking over at a blue blood program.
When Garcia announced that he was entering the transfer portal, my read on it was that he wasn’t likely to return to Marquette. I’m still feeling the same way about it — if he reeeeeeally wanted to be at Marquette, new coach or not, there’s no reason to be in the portal, after all — but a reiteration of his thought process involving MU does make me back off just a tad from it looking like a guarantee that Garcia is gone for good. You have to take him at face value if he says he’s still thinking about it, after all.
In theory, a decision one way or another will be coming quickly. It’s still possible to get enrolled for summer school, after all, and thus get onto campus and involved in workouts, no matter what destination Garcia chooses.