Washington, D.C., Maret School big man Luka Garza had more than a dozen scholarship offers heading into the spring when the coaches from Team Takeover told him there was another school interested in getting involved in his recruitment.
The University of Louisville wasn't out on the road this spring but had watched him from afar.
U of L assistant coach Kenny Johnson is a former coach with Team Takeover and the Cardinals' signed V.J. King off that team last year, so Garza knew a lot about the program and was surprised he had interest.
"I didn't know they were following me at all," he said. "It was always a school I looked at and felt like, 'That would be awesome if I could look at them,' so when coach Keith (from Takeover) said Louisville wanted to talk to me I was excited."
The 6-foot-11, 250-pound Garza said he had a long talk with Johnson and has since kept in contact, also chatting with U of L head coach Rick Pitino. He took an unofficial visit to check out the Cardinals last weekend and then went to Alabama.
"Louisville has been studying my game for a while," Garza said. "I'm obviously very excited about it and it's an honor."
Garza, who also mentioned Iowa, Indiana, Georgia, Pittsburgh, George Washington, St. Joseph's and Northwestern as schools recruiting him the hardest, averaged 25.1 points and 12.5 rebounds a game as an All-D.C. first-team performer as a junior.
While he doesn't have great athleticism, Garza has exceptional offensive skills and was second at the recent NBPA Top 100 Camp in scoring at 13 points a game, while also averaging 5.6 rebounds. He hit 54.6 percent from the field, including 7 of 16 three-pointers.
"On offense, Louisville likes the way I can stretch the floor," Garza said. "I'm a guy that can shoot three's, shoot mid-range (jumpers) and get inside and score. They think I'm a good fit for what they need in the Class of 2017."
Garza said the Louisville coaches have compared him to former Cardinal center and current assistant coach David Padgett, who has joined Johnson as the main recruiters on the prospect.
"That's who they have said I play a lot like and they said coach Pitino likes that," Garza said.
While he's hoping to make a decision by signing day in November, Garza said he's excited to play in front of all the coaches - including Pitino - next week at the Nike Peach Jam in Augusta, Ga.
Garza comes from an athletic family. His father, Frank, was a 6-7 forward for the University of Idaho. His mother, Selja, played professionally in Europe, his grandfather, James Helm, is 6-foot-8 and played for Hawaii and his uncle, Teoman Alibegovic, played at Oregon State, and is the Slovenian national team’s all-time leading scorer.
When he reeled off those basketball connections, Garza smiled and said "I could go on."