Garza Named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award Semifinalist

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced on Friday the 10 semifinalists for the 2021 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award, which includes University of Iowa senior All-American Luka Garza.

Named after Hall of Famer and three-time NCAA Champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the annual honor in its seventh year recognizes the top centers in men’s college basketball. Garza was the recipient of the 2020 Kareem Abdul Jabbar Award and is seeking to become the first player to win in back-to-back seasons since the award was introduced in 2015.

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Garza (6-foot-11, 265 pounds) has been the most dominant player in college basketball in 2020-21. Garza leads the country in points per game (26.9), player efficiency rating (43.73), 30-point games (6), and field goals made (150). He ranks eighth nationally in double-doubles (7) and 11th in free throws made (80). The native of Washington, D.C., is one of only two players in the country (Notre Dame’s Nate Laszewski) to shoot at least 60 percent from the field and at least 46 percent from 3-point range; Garza has more than double the field goals made and attempted as Laszewski.

Garza became Iowa’s all-time leading scorer in Big Ten games on Jan. 10, 2021. He is 37 points from netting point No. 2,000 and 154 passing from surpassing Roy Marble as Iowa’s all-time leading scorer.

In addition to earning the Abdul-Jabbar award last season, Garza was recognized as the National Player of the Year by six national media outlets, the Pete Newell Big Man of the Year, Big Ten Player of the Year, and District VI Player of the Year.

In late February, five finalists will be presented to Mr. Abdul-Jabbar and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee. The winner of the 2021 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be presented on April 9, along with the other four members of the Men’s Starting Five.

No. 7 Iowa (12-3, 6-2) returns to action on tonight at No. 19 Illinois (10-5, 6-3). Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. (CT) at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Illinois. The game will be televised on FS1.

2021 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award Candidates

Kofi Cockburn Illinois
Luka Garza IOWA
Hunter Dickinson Michigan
Liam Robbins Minnesota
Nate Watson Providence
Trevion Williams Purdue
Evan Mobley USC
Neemias Queta Utah State
Derek Culver West Virginia
Charles Bassey Western Kentucky