Garza: National Player of the Year

Luka Garza had a historic season in 2019-2020, leading the nationally-ranked men’s basketball team to 20 victories and a likely NCAA Tournament berth if not for the COVID-19 pandemic. A unanimous consensus first-team All-America selection, Garza became the first Iowa men’s basketball student-athlete to earn National Player of the Year distinction (Sporting News, Basketball Times, ESPN, FOX, Stadium, Bleacher Report). The junior center was also named the Pete Newell Big Man of the Year, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year, USBWA District VI Player of the Year, and Big Ten Men’s Basketball Player of the Year.

Garza finished the 20-game conference schedule averaging 26.2 points per game, becoming the first player to average at least 26 points in Big Ten play since Purdue’s Glenn Robinson in 1994. Garza scored a school-record 740 points this season, breaking the program’s 50-year old record previously set by John Johnson in 1970. Garza became one of three Big Ten players to ever to total 740+ points and 300+ rebounds in a single season. He scored 20 points or more in a school-record 16 straight Big Ten games, the longest streak by any player in the Big Ten since Ohio State’s Dennis Hopson (16) in 1987.

Garza ranked second nationally in 20-point games (25); third in total field goals made (287), fifth in scoring (23.9), 19th in double-doubles (15), and 34th in rebounding (9.8). Garza produced against top competition all season, averaging 26.7 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in 12 contests against AP ranked opponents, including recording 11 straight 20-point performances.

“Luka Garza is phenomenal. As good as he looks on TV, it’s that much more impressive in person. He made himself into a great player through hard work and dedication.”

Dave Revsine, Big Ten Network

Luka Garza announced on Aug. 2, 2020 that he will be returning to the University of Iowa for his senior season.

“My heart is in Iowa City,” said Garza. “I love this place too much to leave it. I love my teammates, coaches, community, fans, and university. It would have been way too hard to close the book without the last chapter.”

Garza is one of five players since 1975, and first since 2008, to return to school after being recognized as the Sporting News National Player of the Year. The other four players are Tyler Hansbrough (2008), Dee Brown (2005), Michael Jordan (1983), and Ralph Sampson (1982).

Head Coach Fran McCaffery said that Garza’s decision is incredibly unselfish and heart-warming.

“Luka has an opportunity to advance himself professionally, but instead, he is thinking more about the program and his teammates,” McCaffery said. “His goals are team-oriented. He has an incredible bond with his brothers in the locker room and believes in this group.

Achieving on-court success with his teammates is not the only goal Garza has on his mind.

“Earning a college degree is something that is not only important to me but very important to my mother,” said Garza. “With all the uncertainty going on, the one certainty would be me earning my degree. My entire family guided me in the right direction and that is why I feel so confident and excited about my decision.”

“Luka Garza is a terrific player and a relentless worker. He has great foot work, he can step out and shoot the three, and is a very good passer. He has a complete offensive game. Luka is a tough match-up because of his energy, passion, work ethic, and how versatile he is around the basket.”

Seth Greenberg, ESPN

"Luka Garza is as tough a player you are ever going to find. He can shoot it, and plays harder than anybody on the court. Luka Garza is everything you want in a college basketball player.”

Dan Dakich, ESPN