March 2005 update:
Garcia's stock has fallen in our eyes, and apparently in the eyes of the scouts as well from what we are hearing. He has struggled mightily when going up against top teams, but for reasons that aren't being discussed in the media and when he is playing on TV. There are serious concerns about how his game will translate to the NBA.
The reason that he is having so much trouble against top teams and especially top defenders is the fact that he just isn't all that athletic. In a league like the NBA where the entire game revolves around speed, especially at the position he'll be playing (SG), this weakness severely limits his NBA potential.
Garcia's first step is average at best, he lacks quickness and has problems creating his own shot and creating space for himself to operate when he is being guarded by quick and long defenders who guard him closely and don't give room to get his shot off.
The fact that he is a 23 year old junior and has the type of body that doesn't look capable of putting on much more weight is a concern as well. Defensively, he lacks lateral quickness and strength, and it wouldn't be surprising if he was a below average defender in the NBA in his first couple of seasons until he learns to get around his physical deficiencies.
Garcia handles the ball extremely well and can play three different positions, but that's what makes his game so misleading because of the way he scores against poorer defenders with limited athletic ability in the NCAA. He'd probably be more of an off the bench type role player in the NBA, but his team could probably get him shots if they bring him off a couple of screens.
This isn't saying that he won't get drafted, far from that actually. There is definitely a spot for a guy like Garcia in the NBA. He can shoot and score with the best of them, from anywhere on the floor, he is long, versatile and a superb passer. He plays the game agressively and with a ton of passion and is one of the most competitive players you will find in the NCAA. That's exactly what makes him so hard to write off. No one would be surprised to see him drafted somewhere in the 20's, especially considering the type of shooting guards this draft has to offer.
Garcia also has a very high basketball IQ, which makes you think that he may be able to adjust his game to the NBA eventually and learn the little tricks that most savvy NBA veterans have to get their shot off as their athletic ability begins to decline. He is creative and cerebral and will not take no for an answer from anyone. Think of Reggie Miller maybe in this aspect, but not nearly as deadly a shooter.
The Chicago pre-draft camp will be huge for Garcia, along with individual workouts and the personal combine style tests that each prospect goes through in every city they visit. An excellent tournament showing could help his stock tremendously.
February 2004: Francisco Garcia is an extremely versatile player, he plays 3 positions for Louisville, the 1,2 and 3. He's silky smooth and extremely confident. Has a passion and unique flair to his game and is extremely fun to watch. Garcia loves to put the ball on the floor, usually without getting called for an offensive foul. A lights out shooter, either stationary or off the dribble. Has great range on his shot and an ultra quick release, arguably one of the best shooters in the NCAA. He can score from anywhere on the court. Moves very well off the ball too, comes off screens and is an excellent free throw shooter. A very intelligent player, understands the game and acts as a floor general on the court. Very vocal on both sides of the court, a natural leader. A fearless competitor, not afraid to hit the floor to come up with loose balls. Never backs down from a challenge, plays with an incredible amount of heart. Fantastic handles for a player his size, dribbles extremely well with both hands and can take the ball either left or right. Drives in and out of traffic like a pro. Will often bring the ball up the floor for Louisville and set up the offense. Great court vision, 2nd in conference USA in assists. Has point guard skills in a 6-8 body. Holds the school record for assists in one game, with 15. Good wingspan and uses it well, blocks a lot of shots and gets in the passing lanes for steals. Has good timing when going up for blocks. Very coachable. A team player. Not afraid to take big shots. Huge heart, that can't be stressed enough. Just a very unique player in terms of his versatility.
February 2004: Garcia's main deficiency is his weight and below average athletic ability for the NBA shooting guard position. At under 200 pounds, he is going to have a hard time in the NBA until he gains some strength. His frame is rail thin, and exactly how much stronger he can get is still not known. Garcia tends to gamble on defense, and this sometimes hurts his team's defense. He still has a ways to go to become an adequate NBA defender, especially with his weight. Fatigue has been a problem for him throughout his college career, although he has gotten much better at that this year. Since he is 22, NBA scouts might wonder exactly how much upside he has. Extremely emotional, this could be a good or a bad thing depending on who you ask.
Earlier in the year, Garcia showed an inner strength that really proved what kind of a person he is. His younger brother, Hector was murdered in his hometown of the Bronx. Less then 48 hours later, Garcia put that behind him for 40 minutes and had one of his best games in his college career, scoring 24 points (4-4 from the line in the last 35 seconds) to secure a huge win over Seton Hall. Garcia was given the option of not playing by coach Pitino but he decided to take out his anguish on the basketball court. Three days later, after attending his brother's funeral, he did the same thing against #1 ranked Florida, again having a big game (21 points). Garcia had a hard time hiding his emotions as the final buzzer sounded and later told the media that he has decided to dedicate this season and his entire career to his brother Hector. Represented his country last summer (2003) in the Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic. Had 14 points and 4 steals vs. Brazil and helped his team win a Silver medal.
March 2005: Garcia is almost being pushed out of Louisville by Coach Pitino, saying that it's time for him to move on and talking all year in the press about the fact that Garcia is as good as gone. He sent him off this week with the rest of the seniors on senior night, despite the fact that he is only a junior. He's also recruited for next year with being gone in mind, and there might be some issues with scholarships if he somehow decides to return (unlike Pitino, he has been hesitant to talk about the draft in the press.) Garcia's draft stock is anything but consistent right now. Poor showings against top teams and prospects have dropped him to the top of our 2005 2nd round mock draft, but it would shock no one if he ended up being drafted somewhere in the 20's eventually.
February 2004: Garcia has made no secret about his NBA aspirations, saying that it is his number one goal in life and stating that getting his mother out of the Bronx as a big reason for that. I hate to bring up what happened to his brother earlier in the year, but that could affect whether or not he decides to come out. More crucial then anything else though, will be the advice he receives from Coach Pitino, who has done a magnificent job at delivering his players to the pros in perfect timing (see Ron Mercer and Jamaal Mashburn from Kentucky as great examples of that). Pitino was the General Manager for the Boston Celtics and still has a lot of pull in the NBA.
March 2005: I'm definitely not as high on Garcia as I once was, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he will eventually find his nitche somewhere in the league, on a team that values his skills and knows how to use him. Once again, he's a very tough guy to write off.
February 2004: In my opinion, Francisco Garcia will have a long and excellent NBA career. Pure Shooting Guards are a dying breed in today's NBA, and if he can put on weight he will be an NBA player for years to come. He has all the tools and especially the personality to make a successful transition to the NBA; it's all a matter of landing in the right situation for him. It's true that he needs to put on some weight, but the average NBA shooting guard isn't that much heavier then 200 pounds.