ROSEMONT, Ill. — University of Iowa men’s basketball center Luka Garza has been named the 2020-21 Big Ten Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year, the conference announced on Wednesday.
Garza is the first Hawkeye men’s basketball player to earn the Big Ten Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year award, which was introduced in 1992. He is one of five Iowa student-athletes, and first in 13 years, to be presented with the Big Ten’s most prestigious annual honor. Other previous Hawkeyes selected include wrestlers Brent Metcalf (2008), Barry Davis (1985) and Ed Banach (1983), and football’s Chuck Long (1986).
Garza is the first basketball player to earn the distinction since Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine in 2016, and only the seventh all-time.
Garza swept all major postseason men’s basketball awards in 2021 (Wooden, Naismith, Associated Press, Oscar Robertson, NABC, Lute Olson, Sporting News) to become the program’s first consensus National Player of the Year. Iowa’s first two-time unanimous consensus first-team All-American led the nationally-ranked Hawkeyes to 22 victories and a third place Big Ten finish in 2021.
Garza, who graduated in May with a degree in economics, led the nation in total points (747), 30-point games (8), field goals made (281), and 20-point games (22). The native of Washington, D.C., 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 that he set last season (740). 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. Garza is the only men’s basketball player in Big Ten history to accumulate 2,250 points and 900 rebounds.
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).
Garza netted 36 points against Oregon in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, which was the most points scored by any player in a 2021 NCAA Tournament game and the most by a Hawkeye in 65 years matching Bill Logan’s 36 scored against Temple in 1956.
The Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year is selected by a panel of conference media members from nominations submitted by each institution.