By Matthew Weitzel
INDIANAPOLIS – National Player of the Year Luka Garza of the University of Iowa has been selected as the 2021 Senior CLASS Award winner in NCAA Division I men’s basketball.
The award, chosen by a nationwide vote of Division I men’s basketball coaches, national basketball media and fans, is given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in men’s basketball.
Garza is the third student-athlete from Iowa to win the Senior CLASS Award: Megan Gustafson (2019) and Samantha Logic (2015).
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: classroom, community, character and competition.
“The University of Iowa has prepared me for the real world both on and off the court. I am forever grateful to the countless teachers, advisors, tutors, and classmates that have helped me balance the life of a Division I student-athlete with the rigorous curriculum in the Tippie College of Business. I will use all the knowledge that I accumulated at the University of Iowa to help me in my future endeavors.”Senior, Luka Garza
The most dominant player in men’s college basketball, Garza has been named national player of the year by the Associated Press, National Association of Basketball Coaches, United States Basketball Writers Association (Oscar Robertson Trophy), Sporting News, Basketball Times, and The Athletic. Iowa’s first two-time unanimous consensus first-team All-American is also a finalist for the Naismith Trophy and John R. Wooden Award.
Garza led the nationally-ranked Hawkeyes to 22 victories and a third place Big Ten finish in 2021. The Washington, D.C., native led the nation in total points (747), player efficiency rating (35.84), 30-point games (8), field goals made (281), and 20-point games (22). Garza ranked second nationally in points per game (24.1), fifth in free throw attempts (199), 10th in free throw makes (141), and 11th in double-doubles (13). His 747 points extended the single-season school record he set last season (740).
Garza is also extremely committed to his studies and community. Instead of leaving Iowa to play professional basketball, he returned to earn his undergraduate degree in economics. While in Iowa City, Garza spent time at Horn Elementary School reading to the children. He also volunteered his time visiting patients at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Garza participated in Iowa’s Annual Day of Caring multiple times, where the Hawkeyes helped non-profit organizations.
“I have been truly blessed to have had the opportunity to have had Luka on our basketball team. Luka embodies all that a student-athlete at the University of Iowa represents. His leadership, his work ethic, his determination, his example for the young players, his consistency of effort and performance -- we may never see another one like him. I believe that is the legacy that he will leave, and that is why everybody in Hawkeye Nation appreciates what he has done for our program and university the last four years.”Head Coach, Fran McCaffery
In his final game as a Hawkeye, Garza poured in 36 points and cleared nine rebounds. The 36 points are the most points scored by any Division I player in the 2021 NCAA Tournament and ties Bill Logan’s school record set against Temple 65 years ago on March 22, 1956.
The two-time Big Ten Player of the Year averaged 21.9 points per game during the 20-game conference schedule, becoming the third player since 1990 to lead the Big Ten in scoring in consecutive seasons (Michigan State’s Steve Smith and Evan Turner of Ohio State).
The two-time Big Ten Player of the Year broke Iowa’s 32-year old scoring record held by Roy Marble on Feb. 21, 2021. He finished his Hawkeye career with 2,306 points, which ranks seventh-best in Big Ten history. In addition to ranking first in career scoring, Garza is tops at Iowa in 30-point games (13), conference scoring (1,399), field goals made (870), field goal attempts (1,594), and 40-point games (2); second in rebounds (931); fourth in double-doubles (34); fifth in blocked shots (154); sixth in free throw makes (446) and attempts (636); and 16th in 3-pointers made (120). He is the only men’s basketball player in Big Ten history to accumulate 2,250 points and 900 rebounds.
“Luka Garza has embodied the quintessential student-athlete while at the University of Iowa,” said Erik Miner, Executive Director of the Senior CLASS Award. “He has truly demonstrated what it means to be a role model with his character, impact in the community, and record-setting accomplishments. We would like to offer our congratulations to Luka Garza and the University of Iowa.”
2021 LUKA GARZA HONORS
• Lute Olson National Player of the Year Award
• Associated Press College Basketball Player of the Year
• Oscar Robertson Trophy
• NABC Division I Player of the Year
• Senior CLASS Award
• Sporting News, Basketball Times, The Athletic National Player of the Year
• Wooden Award Finalist & All-American
• Naismith Trophy Finalist
• Big Ten Men’s Basketball Player of the Year
• USBWA District VI Player of the Year
• NABC Pete Newell Big Man of the Year
• First Team All-America (NABC, Associated Press, Sporting News, USBWA)
• Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award Finalist
• Big Ten All-Tournament Team honoree
• Three-time Big Ten Player of the Week