By Matthew Weitzel
INDIANAPOLIS — University of Iowa senior Luka Garza is the recipient of the 2021 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award. The announcement was made by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Named after Hall of Famer and three-time NCAA Champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the annual honor in its seventh year recognizes the top center in Division I men’s college basketball. Garza is the first student-athlete to win the award multiple times.
No player was more dominant in the paint for a second consecutive year than Garza. Yesterday, the 6-foot-11 center was the recipient of the Pete Newell Big Man of the Year Award.
Garza has been named national player of the year by all of the major organizations and publications to date, including the Naismith, Associated Press, National Association of Basketball Coaches, United States Basketball Writers Association (Oscar Robertson Trophy), Sporting News, and Basketball Times. Iowa’s first two-time unanimous consensus first-team All-American is also a finalist for the John R. Wooden Award, which will be announced on Tuesday.
“To win this award two years in a row is a surreal feeling. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar represented what it was to be an amazing person and basketball player and was a role model to many, including myself. I would not have been able to accomplish this without my teammates, coaches, and my family. I am forever grateful for the University of Iowa. Go Hawks!”Senior, Luka Garza
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).
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 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.
2021 LUKA GARZA HONORS
• Naismith Trophy
• 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
• Big Ten Men’s Basketball Player of the Year
• USBWA District VI Player of the Year
• Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award
• NABC Pete Newell Big Man of the Year
• First Team All-America (NABC, Associated Press, Sporting News, USBWA)
• Big Ten All-Tournament Team honoree
• Three-time Big Ten Player of the Week