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College basketball star Luka Garza on selling his own NFT

Luka Garza, University of Iowa College Basketball Player joins the Yahoo Finance live panel to discuss NFT’s.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: Well, you know him as college basketball's top player, now the winner of the prestigious Wooden Award. But University of Iowa star Luka Garza is now dipping his feet into the NFT or non-fungible token space. Garza becoming the first college athlete to sell his own NFT card. And we've got the man himself. Luka, it's great to have you on today. You're just a few weeks removed from the NCAA tournament. You're diving right into this new venture. Tell me what prompted this.

LUKA GARZA: Well, honestly, you know, I'm an economics major at the University of Iowa. So I've been following the tech world closely. And, you know, my dad is also being into the tech world. So this is something that I've seen. You know, I was very fond of the NBA Top Shot and different things like that. And as a kid, I always had trading cards as well. So I think a lot of things kind of brought this idea together. My dad kind of came up with the idea and brought it towards me. And I just loved it, and I thought it was a really unique opportunity.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, it's on OpenSea right now. We've got two days to go, right now bidding north of eight grand for the NFT. But we should note it's not just kind of the digital expectations that have come from what we might see on NBA Top Shot, but also included with this kind of digital thing here is the autographed shoes from the game that you broke Iowa's all-time scoring record. You get to play a game of Horse with you, private meditation session with you, a night on the town, dinner and a movie with Luka, and lifetime VIP pass to a basketball camp as well. So there's a lot in here. I mean, what are your expectations on where this might end up? Because we've seen some crazy results in NFT auctions.

LUKA GARZA: Well, you know, the cool thing about this one was, like you said, it was more than just an image. It's a personal connection with whoever the person who wins the auction is. So I think that was the thing I was really excited about myself was, I get to know this person who bid on it. And, you know, we get to do a lot of different fun things together.

And then also, you know, for me, one of the biggest things is that a portion of this is going to University of Iowa Children's Hospital, which is something I'm very passionate about. So I'm very excited to see where it ends up. Obviously, it closes April 9 at 8:35 PM. And when we get to that point, I'm excited to meet the person who won the auction and get to know them a little bit better.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, the night on the town, very interesting, depending on who it is. We've seen Justin Sun of "Tron" fame get involved in a lot of these auctions, so who knows if he gets involved in this one? But when it comes to choosing the platform, you guys landed on OpenSea. How did that come about? Because there's a lot of options out there.

LUKA GARZA: I think we just saw OpenSea as the number one marketplace. And, you know, obviously, I kind of was following the model of Rob Gronkowski. I saw what he did. And he put his on OpenSea. So it was something that, you know, inspired me. And when I looked at that, I saw it as the perfect place to be able to display this. And, you know, hopefully it can reach enough people for people to find it and see it and enjoy the idea.

AKIKO FUJITA: Luka, you're able to do this, obviously, because you're now eligible for the draft. You came back for your senior year at Iowa, but increasingly, you've [INAUDIBLE] a lot of athletes looking at other avenues to make money straight out of high school. You've got the Supreme Court now looking into athletes being able to cash in on their name, image, and likeness. I'm just curious, as somebody who went through all four years of college, what you think about the shift that's likely to happen within the NCAA.

LUKA GARZA: Well, first, I want to say I'm very thankful for the NCAA and my ability to pursue an education law, you know, representing the University of Iowa on the basketball court. So I'm definitely very thankful for that. But, you know, I think there's been a lot of great work by a lot of great players. My teammate, Jordan [INAUDIBLE] included with a couple of others that have just pushed this so hard against the NCAA and trying to make name, image, and likeness happen for all athletes in the future.

And I think, you know, with me doing the NFT, I think maybe in the future that this could be a possible avenue for college athletes if name, image, and likeness was passed. They could go this route. And so, hopefully, I can pave the way and show an example of something like that. But, you know, I'm definitely excited about the opportunity for future athletes going into college to be able to benefit off name, image, and likeness.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, it would obviously change kind of the math behind trying to time when they want to leave college for the NBA. As Akiko said, I mean, you won the Wooden Award. So I mean, there you go. Right now, you should be much higher. I mean, I'd be curious to get your expectations for the draft now that you are going out. Because we've heard a lot about how it's difficult to kind of try and project that. Some are saying, what, [INAUDIBLE] round. But the Wooden Award, that's got to help here. So where are you expecting to go when you get out there?

LUKA GARZA: Well, you know, honestly, it doesn't matter to me, as long as I find the right fit with a great organization. You know, I'm going back home now to start preparing and getting ready for the trip. I'm going to do a lot of things to put myself in the best position to be successful. But, you know, I really-- it doesn't matter the number to me. I just want to get to work with an organization and prove myself.

AKIKO FUJITA: Luka, going back to that question I had about athletes being able to cash in, I just want to, I guess, follow up here about whether you think that those who are freshmen, for example, should be able to do that as well. And there's a lot of athletes, younger athletes, especially, just coming up through the ranks in high school that are sort of looking at multiple options that are now available to them, jumping into a new league that's been launched that would pay them going over to Europe, going overseas to play. What is the case for staying in college when there are increasingly more and more alternatives available to young players?

LUKA GARZA: Well, I think there's a lot of different examples when you look at freshmen going to college. You know, you can look at Jalen Suggs this year and what he did this year and his ability. You know, before the year, he could have went to the G League. He could have went to Europe. But instead, he got to make a very deep tournament run, hit one of the most iconic shots in NCAA tournament history. And I promise you that he would tell you that it was worth it to stay in college and play that and have that experience and then, you know, go look forward to the draft.

And then, also, you know, for a guy in my shoes, who, as a junior, was looking into the draft and decided to came back, and I-- it was the best decision I've ever made to come back to the University of Iowa and stay my senior year, do my degree, finish college, and have the experiences that I did. So I think, you know, when there's such a value in staying in college and going to college that I think that people who don't go kind of miss out on. And I think if in the future that name, image, and likeness would be passed, I think it would even incentivize bigger high school athletes to just come to college and not try to skip it. And that would just help the NCAA. And the NCAA Tournament would be more and more exciting.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, you say that was your best decision. We'll see how this NFT auction goes because you might have a new best decision as we move north of 8 grand. But Luka Garza, appreciate you coming on here to chat with us. Congrats on everything, man. And good luck in the draft. Hope to have you back on once we see where this finally closes, but thanks again.