IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced on Friday the five finalists for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award, which includes University of Iowa junior Luka Garza.
Joining Garza as finalists are Vernon Carey Jr. (Duke), Filip Petrusev (Gonzaga), Udoka Azubuike (Kansas), and Nathan Knight (William & Mary).
In addition to being named a finalist of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award, Garza is an Oscar Robertson Trophy and Naismith Trophy semifinalist, on the John R. Wooden Award Late Season Top 20 and Lute Olson Award Top 30 lists.
Garza (6-foot-11, 260 pounds) ranks first nationally with 12 20-point/10-rebound performances and field goals made (275), second in 20-point games (24), third in points per 40 minutes played (29.9), fifth in scoring (23.7), ninth in 30-point games (5), 17th in double-doubles (15) and offensive rebounds per game (3.7), and 34th in rebounding (9.9). His 15 double-doubles are third most in a single-season by a Hawkeye in three decades and the most since 2002 (Reggie Evans, 18). Garza is one of two players in the country, and only player from a major conference, to average better than 23 points and nine rebounds per game.
Garza, who has led the Big Ten in scoring since November, surpassed 700 points on March 3 to break the Iowa’s 50-year old single-season scoring record. He has scored 20 points or more in a school-record 15 straight Big Ten games, the longest streak by any player in the Big Ten since Purdue’s Glenn Robinson (15 in 1994).
Garza has scored 25 points or more 12 times this season, including the last two contests (Penn State and Purdue). He has controlled 12 or more rebounds 10 times this season, a total that ties for 14th best in the NCAA. The native of Washington, D.C., is the only Big Ten player to register seven 25-point/10-rebound performances in the same season in more than 17 years.
Garza, who is seeking to become Iowa’s first Big Ten MVP since Sam Williams in 1968, has been a force with his back to the basket in the post and facing defenders on the perimeter. He has produced the two highest point totals in a game by a Big Ten player this season (44 at Michigan; 38 at Indiana). Garza is one of two centers in the nation shooting 35 percent or better from 3-point range (min. 100 attempts).
Named after Hall of Famer and three-time NCAA Champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the annual honor in its sixth year recognizes the top centers in Division I men’s college basketball. The five finalists will be presented to Mr. Abdul-Jabbar and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee. The winner will be presented at the College Basketball Awards Show in Los Angeles on April 10. Fans can vote for their favorite player at hoophallawards.com.
No. 18 Iowa (20-10, 11-8) will play its regular season finale at No. 23 Illinois (20-9, 12-6) on Sunday in Champaign, Illinois. The game will be televised nationally on BTN.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Finalists
|Nathan Knight||Senior||William & Mary|