SEATTLE -- Charles Garcia is hoping his size and skills, combined with a strong start to his only season of major college basketball, are good enough for the NBA.
Seattle University's 6-foot-10 junior forward wasted no time and declared for the NBA draft on Monday, effective at the end of the Redhawks season. Combining the size of a big man with the ball-handling skills of a perimeter player, Garcia became a must-see for NBA scouts after starting the year as an unknown.
"It has always been a dream of mine to have an opportunity to play in the NBA," Garcia said in a statement released by the school. "I want to thank Seattle University, coach [Cameron] Dollar, and my teammates for putting me in this position. I also want to thank the city of Seattle for all their love and support."
Garcia was originally a recruit of nearby Washington, before being denied admission. He landed across town at Seattle, reuniting with Dollar, who served as Garcia's main recruiter at Washington before Dollar took the Seattle job.
And he quickly became the unknown prospect putting up huge numbers.
Garcia scored 20 or more points in eight of his first 10 games, at one time leading the country in scoring. He scored 30 at Portland, 27 against Weber State and popped for a season-best 41 against Wofford. Those numbers caught the attention of NBA scouts, who became regular fixtures at nearly every game Garcia played.
It also brought attention to a Seattle program playing its first full season of Division I hoops as part of its transition back to the top level of college basketball after once being a West Coast power a half-century ago.
"I will be forever grateful for all he has done for the university and our basketball program," Dollar said.
But the second half of Garcia's season was at times a struggle. He had trouble adjusting to teams focusing their defense on him and was benched at one point by Dollar for his lack of effort. Garcia also started coming off the bench at the end of the season.
Garcia averaged 18.7 points and 8.3 rebounds as the Redhawks finished the regular season 17-14. Seattle is holding out hopes of playing in one of the lower-level postseason tournaments.
"There may be a handful of players in the country who have as much upside as Charles," Dollar said. "I am extremely proud of how he has grown and developed throughout the year. I support his decision 100 percent and look forward to watching him reach his tremendous potential in the NBA."
If Garcia is drafted, he would become the first Seattle player taken in the draft since Jawann Oldham and Carl Ervin were taken in the 1980 NBA draft. Twenty-seven Seattle players have been drafted in school history.