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Brought In At a Bargain, Sioux Falls' Garcia Out To Prove He's Worth an NBA Look

Charles Garcia gave a brilliant 20-point, 13-rebound performance in Tuesday's second day of the NBA D-League Showcase.
Jack Arent/NBAE via Getty Images
When the Sioux Falls Skyforce acquired the greatest-biggest athlete in the NBA Development League in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick, it wasn’t so much a matter of getting a good deal, Skyforce coach Mo McHone said.

It was just that nobody else wanted him.

Except, fortunately, Skyforce assistant coach Eldridge Recasner, who saw Garcia when he was playing ball at Seattle University.

“To be very honest with you I knew nothing about Charles Garcia,” McHone said. “But Eldridge is from Seattle, so he just kept saying, ‘You gotta get him, you gotta get him.’ Had Eldridge not been there and known who he was, I wouldn’t have taken him either. … And I guess we were the only ones that were even willing to give them a No. 4. But I’m happy we did.”

On Tuesday, Garcia confirmed to 50-plus scouts and the rest of the NBA D-League world that the Skyforce made the right call. In an event that’s seen a number of big men with size but little spring, Garcia’s twisting, leaping, 20-point, 13-rebound performance made him one of Showcase Day Two’s main attractions.

And this, just eight months after he was doing a whole lot of sitting.

Technically, Garcia was a member of the 2011 NBA D-League champion Iowa Energy. Technically, insofar as he wore the jersey, traveled on the same buses and gave the same high-fives as the rest of the Energy. Just more of them. Lots more.

During the Energy’s playoff run, the center out of Seattle University played just one single minute. Total. And the reputation that followed him to Sioux Falls read like a prospect rap sheet. Low energy. Allergic to work.

So when he got to Sioux Falls, he had some things to address.

“This year I came in to prove people wrong,” Garcia said. “Coach Mo, he sees things differently. And [my reputation] is the one thing I wanted to get over. To get that out of the air. And now look what’s going on.”

To date, he’s notching almost 19 points and eight rebounds a game. His usage rate of 25.2 percent (a measure of the percentage of offensive plays that he utilizes) puts him 10th in the NBA D-League. And outside of two 6-point efforts, he’s been good for 15 or more in the other 10 games.

He’s still working on the consistency thing.

“It’s so funny, because all I heard about him was how he was kind of a low-energy guy or whatever, and that is definitely not true,” McHone said. “If anything, he tries too hard. He tries to do way too much. Charles’ problem is he’s a work in progress, and when I say that, he’s got all the talent in the world, but he just has never played this type of basketball. He doesn’t know when to turn it on, because he’s always on.”

He’ll still do things like take the ball on the perimeter, put his head down and barrel toward the hoop. Most of the time there’ll be somebody – or some bodies – in the way, and he’ll end up with a charge and, once he’s provided the ref with his thoughts, a technical.

But the talent’s clearly there, McHone said. He just needs to find a way to rein it in.

“I’m sure he’s gonna get it,” McHone reiterated. “The talent is there, he’s extremely skilled and he plays hard. He’s a good rebounder. He’s strong. He can probably use either hand as well as any guy his size.”

And if the switch is always on when Garcia’s on the court, now it’s on, too, when he’s off. He’s never worked harder at bettering his game, he said – thanks largely to his roommate, Anthony Mason, Jr., whose own NBA journey involves spending most of his time at the gym.

“We came to training camp at the same time, and we talked a lot about how committed we gotta be if we want to get to the next level,” Mason said. “We talked about the extra work we gotta do off the court, even with the weights, how we gotta be 100 percent at all time.”

“We just feel like now that we’ve seen the league, we’re like, ‘C’mon man, we gotta get this,’” Garcia said. “This is our year. We gotta get it.”

So Garcia’s been working to get his body “right,” he said, which means packing on some more muscle and strength so he can’t get pushed around in the lane. That hasn’t been an issue too often in the NBA D-League for him this year, and it certainly wasn’t when he was playing ball at Seattle – which had just gone D-I when he transferred there from a JuCo – but it will be in the NBA.

But he’s also working on his mind, too. His basketball IQ, he calls it. He’s breaking down games differently now, watching basketball differently from his younger days, when he just watched and thought of hoops as one long highlight reel.

The progress comes slow, but he’s getting there, he said. He’s got a long way to go, but for the first time, he’s getting an idea of how to get there.

“I appreciate the game. I love this game with a passion,” Garcia said. “People say I don’t look like I love the game, but this is all I care about. This is my life.”