ORLANDO, Florida – University of Iowa sophomore Caitlin Clark and former Hawkeye Luka Garza are one of 38 athletes selected as finalists for the AAU James E. Sullivan Award. This honor is the only national award that puts the best in sports, male and female, head-to-head for the title of “top athlete.”
Voting for the award is open to the public at aausullivan.org. The finalist voting closes at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, September 27.
The AAU Sullivan Award has been presented annually since 1930 to the most outstanding athlete in the United States. Representatives from the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) created the Sullivan Award with the intent to recognize contributions and achievements from athletes across the country.
During her freshman campaign, Clark averaged 26.6 points, 7.1 assists, and 5.9 rebounds per game in 30 games this season, setting the Iowa freshman record with 26.6 points per game (men’s or women’s), recording the fourth-highest points per game in single-season in Iowa history (men’s or women’s), and was the 2020-21 NCAA Division I scoring leader (men’s or women’s).
The West Des Moines, Iowa, native was named co-Freshman of the Year and first team All-America by The Athletic, USBWA, and WBCA after leading the nation in total assists (214), total points (799), points per game (26.6), field goals made (266), 3-pointers made (116), and ranked second in assists per game (7.1) and 3-pointers per game (3.87). Last month, Clark won her third gold medal and was named the FIBA U19 World Cup Most Valuable Player. The USA Team Captain amassed 100 points, 39 assists, 37 rebounds, seven steals, and six blocks in seven contests.
Garza, who graduated in May with an Economics degree, 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. He became the first Hawkeye men’s basketball player to earn the Big Ten Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year award. Iowa’s first two-time unanimous consensus first-team All-American 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).
His 747 points in 2021 extended the single-season school record that he set last season. 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. He was drafted in the second round by the Detroit Pistons in the 2021 NBA Draft.
“These exceptional athletes truly embody the spirit of the AAU James E. Sullivan Award,” said Jennings “Rusty” Buchanan, AAU President and CEO of the AAU. “They not only top performers in their sport, but also display qualities of leadership, good character, and sportsmanship both on and off the field.”
Last year, the AAU crowned co-winners Sabrina Ionescu, University of Oregon, and Spencer Lee, University of Iowa. Ionescu became the seventh basketball player to take home the award, while Lee became the fifth wrestler to be named the top athlete. The pair are the third duo to win, following the footsteps of the 86th recipients, former Navy quarterback, Keenan Reynolds and former University of Connecticut forward, Breanna Stewart in 2015 and the basketball twins Kelly and Coco Miller in 1999.
Ionescu and Lee joined a world-renowned list of Sullivan Award recipients, including famed Olympians Michelle Kwan (2001), Michael Phelps (2003), Paul Hamm (2004) and Shawn Johnson (2008); University of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning (1997), Penn State guard John Urschel (2013); 200m backstroke world record holder Missy Franklin (2012) and University of Wisconsin setter Lauren Carlini (2016).
The AAU James E. Sullivan Award presentation will be held at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, Florida, on Oct. 22, with a special recognition reception in conjunction with the Orlando Magic later that evening.