Dawson Garcia’s slow departure from Marquette basketball is finally over. On Thursday, the forward from Minnesota announced that he will be transferring to North Carolina to play for first time head coach Hubert Davis for the 2021-22 season.
If the news that Garcia is leaving Marquette is taking you by surprise, well, I hope that you enjoyed the coma that you were in since mid-March. The termination of head coach Steve Wojciechowski’s contract was going to bring roster changes with it, and Garcia was Wojciechowski second most highly touted prospect coming out of high school behind only Henry Ellenson. The former top 40 prospect waited until Marquette officially hired Shaka Smart to take over the reins of the men’s basketball program before he declared for the NBA Draft, albeit without hiring an agent to retain his eligibility. Still, the interest in declaring for the draft while not appearing on any mock drafts kind of indicated a tilt towards leaving Marquette. If that didn’t tell you on its own what might be coming, then Garcia saying that he would “return to school” if that’s what NBA scouts told him, not “return to Marquette” should have let you know.
The next big clue on Garcia’s future came on June 25th, after his trip to the G League Elite Camp. That’s when he announced that he was entering the transfer portal, which is always a crucial component to changing schools. Very rarely do you see someone enter the portal in an effort to be able to talk to other coaches about how they might fit in at a different program and then end up back where they started. Sure, Garcia said he was still considering returning to Marquette, and sure, he even said that when he officially withdrew from the NBA Draft earlier this week.
It never felt anywhere close to likely to happen, but merely a note of “well, Coach Smart said there’s a place for me if I want it” more than anything else. And so now he’s off to North Carolina, which is definitely an interesting choice. After all, Garcia had one of his best performances of his freshman season in Marquette’s hastily scheduled road trip to Chapel Hill: 24 points on 9-for-13 shooting, including 8-for-9 on two-pointers, 11 rebounds, and two assists as the Golden Eagles shocked the Tar Heels, 83-70. I’m sure that performance was quite forward in the mind of now-head coach and then-assistant coach Hubert Davis as he heads into his first season after taking over for the legendary Roy Williams.
Dawson Garcia averaged 13.0 points per game in his one season at Marquette, which was good enough to tie with D.J. Carton for the team lead, and Garcia also led the team in rebounding at 6.6 per game as well. Even with a pandemic-shortened 27 game season, the 6’11” forward ended up with the ninth most points in a season by a Marquette freshmen, landing eight points in front of Jerel McNeal and 27 behind Bo Ellis. If you want to think more about Garcia’s one season in blue and gold, I recommend you check out our Player Review for him.
Technically this is a recruiting article since this is discussing a departure, but our scholarship chart has been reflecting Garcia’s departure from Marquette ever since he entered the transfer portal.
Shaka Smart has one scholarship available to him for this upcoming season if he is so interested in using it. It seems unlikely that will happen at this point in the calendar, though. It is worth noting that Justin Lewis is now officially Marquette’s leading returning scorer and rebounder at 7.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game last season. It’s going to be a bit of a weird season with just three returning players, but such is the way of things when you make a much needed coaching change.